Return to Flight
Description: KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - Spectators at the NASA News Center at Kennedy Space Center get a birds-eye-view of Space Shuttle Discovery as it roars through a stray cloud after liftoff at 10:39 a.m. EDT from NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B on the historic Return to Flight mission STS-114. It is the 114th Space Shuttle flight and the 31st for Discovery. The 12-day mission is expected to end with touchdown at the Shuttle Landing Facility on Aug. 7. On this mission to the International Space Station the crew will perform inspections on-orbit for the first time of all of the Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) panels on the leading edge of the wings and the Thermal Protection System tiles using the new Canadian-built Orbiter Boom Sensor System and the data from 176 impact and temperature sensors. Mission Specialists will also practice repair techniques on RCC and tile samples during a spacewalk in the payload bay. During two additional spacewalks, the crew will install the External Stowage Platform-2, equipped with spare part assemblies, and a replacement Control Moment Gyroscope contained in the Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure...Image # : KSC-05PD-1729
NASA Photo Collection
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.