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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly signs the space shuttle wall tribute in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Kennedy employees who have supported the Space Shuttle Program throughout the last 30 years have been signing the wall as a tribute to the program.       Endeavour's six crew members are at Kennedy for the launch countdown dress rehearsal called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) and related training. Endeavour is targeted to launch April 19 at 7:48 p.m. EDT on its final spaceflight mission. For more information visit, www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts134/index.html. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-2011-2616

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly signs the space shuttle wall tribute in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Kennedy employees who have supported the Space Shuttle Program throughout the last 30 years have been signing the wall as a tribute to the program. Endeavour's six crew members are at Kennedy for the launch countdown dress rehearsal called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) and related training. Endeavour is targeted to launch April 19 at 7:48 p.m. EDT on its final spaceflight mission. For more information visit, www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts134/index.html. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-2011-2616

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly signs the space shuttle wall tribute in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Kennedy employees who have supported the Space Shuttle Program throughout the last 30 years have been signing the wall as a tribute to the program. Endeavour's six crew members are at Kennedy for the launch countdown dress rehearsal called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) and related training. Endeavour is targeted to launch April 19 at 7:48 p.m. EDT on its final spaceflight mission. For more information visit, www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts134/index.html. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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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31/03/2011
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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