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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- On Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians remove a few items from space shuttle Discovery's middeck payload, including food, prior to a tanking test planned for no earlier than Dec. 15. During the test, engineers will monitor what happens to the external fuel tank's newly replaced ground umbilical carrier plate (GUCP) and the intertank's stringers, which are 21-foot long, U-shaped aluminum brackets located on the intertank, during loading of cryogenic propellants. Technicians already installed environmental enclosures on the tank, removed foam and prepared the tank's skin for approximately 89 strain gauges and thermocouples.       Discovery's first launch attempt for STS-133 was scrubbed in early November due to a hydrogen gas leak at GUCP. The next launch opportunity is no earlier than Feb. 3, 2011. For more information on STS-133, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts133/. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky KSC-2010-5836

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- On Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians remove a few items from space shuttle Discovery's middeck payload, including food, prior to a tanking test planned for no earlier than Dec. 15. During the test, engineers will monitor what happens to the external fuel tank's newly replaced ground umbilical carrier plate (GUCP) and the intertank's stringers, which are 21-foot long, U-shaped aluminum brackets located on the intertank, during loading of cryogenic propellants. Technicians already installed environmental enclosures on the tank, removed foam and prepared the tank's skin for approximately 89 strain gauges and thermocouples. Discovery's first launch attempt for STS-133 was scrubbed in early November due to a hydrogen gas leak at GUCP. The next launch opportunity is no earlier than Feb. 3, 2011. For more information on STS-133, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts133/. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky KSC-2010-5836

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- On Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians remove a few items from space shuttle Discovery's middeck payload, including food, prior to a tanking test planned for no earlier than Dec. 15. During the test, engineers will monitor what happens to the external fuel tank's newly replaced ground umbilical carrier plate (GUCP) and the intertank's stringers, which are 21-foot long, U-shaped aluminum brackets located on the intertank, during loading of cryogenic propellants. Technicians already installed environmental enclosures on the tank, removed foam and prepared the tank's skin for approximately 89 strain gauges and thermocouples. Discovery's first launch attempt for STS-133 was scrubbed in early November due to a hydrogen gas leak at GUCP. The next launch opportunity is no earlier than Feb. 3, 2011. For more information on STS-133, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts133/. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

The Space Shuttle program was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011, administered by NASA and officially beginning in 1972. The Space Shuttle system—composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank— carried up to eight astronauts and up to 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). When its mission was complete, the orbiter would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and lands as a glider. Although the concept had been explored since the late 1960s, the program formally commenced in 1972 and was the focus of NASA's manned operations after the final Apollo and Skylab flights in the mid-1970s. It started with the launch of the first shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, on STS-1. and finished with its last mission, STS-135 flown by Atlantis, in July 2011.

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09/12/2010
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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