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Space Shuttle program

NASA's Space Shuttle, officially called Space Transportation System (STS), is the United States government's sole manned launch vehicle currently in service. The Space Shuttle orbiter was manufactured by North American Rockwell, now part of the Boeing Company. Martin Marietta (now part of Lockheed Martin) designed the external fuel tank and Morton Thiokol (now part of Alliant Techsystems (ATK)) designed the solid rocket boosters.

The Space Shuttle Columbia seconds after engine ignition, 1981 (NASA). For the first two missions only, the external fuel tank spray-on foam insulation (SOFI) was painted white. Subsequent missions have featured an unpainted tank thus exposing the orange/rust colored foam insulation. This resulted in a weight saving of over 1,000 lb (450 kg), a savings that translated directly to added payload capacity to orbit.

The Space Shuttle Columbia seconds after engine ignition, 1981 (NASA). For the first two missions only, the external fuel tank spray-on foam insulation (SOFI) was painted white. Subsequent missions have featured an unpainted tank thus exposing the orange/rust colored foam insulation. This resulted in a weight saving of over 1,000 lb (450 kg), a savings that translated directly to added payload capacity to orbit.

 

All text of this article available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).



 
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