Photo Gallery

Space Shuttle Propulsion
 
An exhaust plume surrounds the mobile launcher platform on Launch Pad 39A as space shuttle Atlantis lifts off on the STS-132 mission. › Large (3242 x 2739, 300 ppi)
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An exhaust plume surrounds the mobile launcher platform on Launch Pad 39A , Kennedy Space Center, Fla., as space shuttle Atlantis lifts off on the STS-132 mission on May 14. STS-132 is the 132nd shuttle flight, the 32nd for Atlantis and the 34th shuttle mission dedicated to International Space Station assembly and maintenance. (NASA)

ET-134 rolls out. VIDEO: External Tank ET-134 rolls out at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans. (NASA/MSC)
› View video (Windows, streaming)


Four aluminum domes, each created using innovative welding processes, are seen in this overhead view of the Marshall Space Flight Center Advanced Welding and Manufacturing Facility. › Large (4256 x 2832, 240 ppi)
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Four aluminum domes, each created using innovative welding processes, are seen in this overhead view of the Marshall Space Flight Center Advanced Welding and Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville, Ala. In this cutting-edge facility, a team of NASA and contractor engineers and technicians develops complex manufacturing processes aimed at achieving high-strength, defect free, uniformly bonded aluminum structures -- a vital requirement for next-generation launch vehicles and hardware designed for long-term space travel. (NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham)

A Lockheed Martin worker explains details of space shuttle external tank manufacturing to NASA astronaut Steven Lindsey at NASA’s Michoud Assembly March 22. › Large (4066 x 2796, 300ppi)
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A Lockheed Martin worker explains details of space shuttle external tank manufacturing to NASA astronaut Steven Lindsey at NASA’s Michoud Assembly March 22. Lindsey and other space shuttle Discovery crew members who will fly the STS-133 mission in September toured the manufacturing facility where space shuttle external tanks are manufactured and assembled. The crew got a first-hand look at ET-138, which will fly with shuttle Discovery on the final scheduled shuttle mission to the International Station. The crew will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and critical spare components to the space station. (Lockheed Martin)

A Lockheed Martin technician performs a foam spray to the liquicd oxygen tank and intertank flange closeout area. › Large (704 x 480, 72 ppi)
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A Lockheed Martin technician performs a foam spray to the liquicd oxygen tank and intertank flange closeout area on the space shuttle external tank. The intertank is a steel/aluminum cylindrical structure with flanges on each end for joining the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen tanks. (Lockheed Martin)

A Lockheed Martin technician installs a liquid oxygen tank feedline bellows heater on a space shuttle external tank. › Large (2550 x 1649, 300 ppi)
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A Lockheed Martin technician installs a liquid oxygen tank feedline bellows heater on a space shuttle external tank at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where space shuttle external tanks are manufactured and assembled. The heater, connected to the ground support equipment on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., keeps the feedline bellows area slightly warmer than freezing prior to launch. The liquid oxygen feedline carries liquid oxygen from the tank to the main engines. The bellows are the joints that allow the feedline to move, or flex, when the tank is assembled, when it is fueled, and during liftoff and ascent. The cold bellows surface is caused by near minus-297 degree liquid oxygen. (Lockheed Martin)

A video from the STS-115 mission in September 2006 is typical of parachute deployment following a shuttle launch. › View Video (Windows, 4.8 MB)

A video from the STS-115 mission in September 2006 is typical of parachute deployment following a shuttle launch. The three main parachutes on the left-hand solid rocket booster are deployed and inflate in stages to slow their descent toward splashdown. The parachutes slow each booster from 368 mph at first deployment to 52 mph at splashdown. The boosters and parachutes are recovered and reused. (NASA)

The following group of images shows various stages of space shuttle external tank assembly at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Previously, the liquid hydrogen tank barrels were fabricated using traditional fusion welding. Friction stir welding is different in that the materials are not melted. A friction stir weld tack tool is used to tack weld barrel panels together prior to the full penetration weld. A rotating tool pin uses friction and applied pressure to plasticize the metal and join the 20-foot longitudinal panels together. As a result, weld joints are more efficient, yielding 80 percent of base material strength. (Lockheed Martin)

A stage of space shuttle external tank assembly at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. › Large (911 x 607, 72 ppi)
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A stage of space shuttle external tank assembly at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. › Large (869 x 580, 72 ppi)
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A stage of space shuttle external tank assembly at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. › Large (908 x 567, 72 ppi)
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A stage of space shuttle external tank assembly at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. › Large (911 x 607, 72 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 344, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)


A stage of space shuttle external tank assembly at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. › Large (906 x 614, 72 ppi)
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A stage of space shuttle external tank assembly at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. › Large (891 x 594, 72 ppi)
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Space shuttle Endeavour launches Feb. 8 against a black night sky at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. › Large (2000 x 3000, 240 ppi)
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Space shuttle Endeavour launches Feb. 8 against a black night sky at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., lifted from the launch pad by two solid rocket boosters and the three space shuttle main engines. Endeavour and its six-member STS-130 crew rendezvoused with the International Space Station Feb. 10. Landing is scheduled Feb. 21 at Kennedy. (NASA)

External Tank, ET-135 › Large (1108 x 887, 72 ppi)
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External Tank, ET-135, rolled from Michoud Assembly Facility on to NASA’s Pegasus barge, Sunday, December 20, on schedule for its voyage to the Kennedy Space Center. The 900-mile voyage usually takes six days. ET-135 is scheduled to fly in March 2010 with STS-131, the second mission of the year, alongside Space Shuttle Discovery under the command of Alan Poindexter.

The ET-135 is the 131st flight tank that Lockheed Martin has constructed for the Space Shuttle Program.

The Pegasus barge was moved Sunday by commercial tug boats for an early Monday morning rendezvous at the Port of Gulfport, Gulfport, Miss., where it was met by NASA’s Solid Rocket Booster recovery ship Freedom Star. The Freedom Star took the Pegasus under tow around 8 a.m. and is currently in transit to the Kennedy Space Center. (NASA)

External Tank, ET-135 › Large (758 x 1137, 72 ppi)
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External Tank, ET-135, rolled from Michoud Assembly Facility on to NASA’s Pegasus barge, Sunday, December 20, on schedule for its voyage to the Kennedy Space Center. The 900-mile voyage usually takes six days. ET-135 is scheduled to fly in March 2010 with STS-131, the second mission of the year, alongside Space Shuttle Discovery under the command of Alan Poindexter.

The ET-135 is the 131st flight tank that Lockheed Martin has constructed for the Space Shuttle Program.

The Pegasus barge was moved Sunday by commercial tug boats for an early Monday morning rendezvous at the Port of Gulfport, Gulfport, Miss., where it was met by NASA’s Solid Rocket Booster recovery ship Freedom Star. The Freedom Star took the Pegasus under tow around 8 a.m. and is currently in transit to the Kennedy Space Center. (NASA)

External Tank, ET-135 › Large (1121 x 748, 72 ppi)
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External Tank, ET-135, rolled from Michoud Assembly Facility on to NASA’s Pegasus barge, Sunday, December 20, on schedule for its voyage to the Kennedy Space Center. The 900-mile voyage usually takes six days. ET-135 is scheduled to fly in March 2010 with STS-131, the second mission of the year, alongside Space Shuttle Discovery under the command of Alan Poindexter.

The ET-135 is the 131st flight tank that Lockheed Martin has constructed for the Space Shuttle Program.

The Pegasus barge was moved Sunday by commercial tug boats for an early Monday morning rendezvous at the Port of Gulfport, Gulfport, Miss., where it was met by NASA’s Solid Rocket Booster recovery ship Freedom Star. The Freedom Star took the Pegasus under tow around 8 a.m. and is currently in transit to the Kennedy Space Center. (NASA)

External Tank, ET-135 › Large (748 x 1121, 72 ppi)
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External Tank, ET-135, rolled from Michoud Assembly Facility on to NASA’s Pegasus barge, Sunday, December 20, on schedule for its voyage to the Kennedy Space Center. The 900-mile voyage usually takes six days. ET-135 is scheduled to fly in March 2010 with STS-131, the second mission of the year, alongside Space Shuttle Discovery under the command of Alan Poindexter.

The ET-135 is the 131st flight tank that Lockheed Martin has constructed for the Space Shuttle Program.

The Pegasus barge was moved Sunday by commercial tug boats for an early Monday morning rendezvous at the Port of Gulfport, Gulfport, Miss., where it was met by NASA’s Solid Rocket Booster recovery ship Freedom Star. The Freedom Star took the Pegasus under tow around 8 a.m. and is currently in transit to the Kennedy Space Center. (NASA)

External tank ET-36 is seen in the video reentering the Earth’s atmosphere high over the Indian Ocean. › View Video (Windows, streaming)

External tank ET-36 – the structural backbone of the space shuttle and gas tank for the STS-29 mission -- is seen in the video reentering the Earth’s atmosphere high over the Indian Ocean. Intense heating causes the eventual break up and explosion, creating a giant fireball and streamers of small flaming debris. The video was captured by U.S. Navy special aircraft. STS-29 was a space shuttle Discovery mission to insert a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) into Earth's orbit. It was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., March 13, 1989. (U.S. Navy)

External Tank ET-133 rolls out of NASA’s Pegasus barge at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Aug. 3. › Large (3000 x 1386, 300 ppi)
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External Tank ET-133 rolls out of NASA’s Pegasus barge at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Aug. 3. The tank was shipped aboard the Pegasus from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans. After unloading from the barge, ET-133 was moved into a high bay in Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building for checkout. Later, it will be joined to twin solid rocket boosters and space shuttle Atlantis in preparation for the STS-129 mission to the International Space Station. The launch of space shuttle Atlantis is targeted for November. (NASA)

The last planned space shuttle main engine test was conducted at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., July 29. › Large (2400 x 1380, 300 ppi)
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Steam billows from the test stand at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss., during a July 29 space shuttle main engine test. It was the last planned space shuttle main engine test for the Space Shuttle Program, which is set to end next year. Stennis engineers conducted their first test of a space shuttle main engine in 1975 and have tested every engine used in the program since that time. During those 34 years and almost 130 shuttle flights, no mission has failed due to engine malfunction. (NASA)

The last planned space shuttle main engine test was conducted at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., July 29. › Large (2400 x 1466, 300 ppi)
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The last planned space shuttle main engine test was conducted at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., July 29. (NASA)

External tank ET-132 is loaded on the covered barge Pegasus at NASA’s Michoud Assembly in New Orleans on May 1. › Large (3504 x 2336, 240 ppi)
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External tank ET-132 is loaded on the covered barge Pegasus at NASA’s Michoud Assembly in New Orleans on May 1. (Lockheed Martin)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (444 x 456, 300 ppi)
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The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (600 x 1000, 300 ppi)
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The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (912 x 1092, 300 ppi)
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The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (600 x 1000, 300 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 860, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (1220 x 752, 300 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 318, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (904 x 604, 300 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 345, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (1162 x 945, 300 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 420, 72 ppi)
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The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (1062 x 624, 300 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 303, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (1590 x 1375, 533 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 444, 72 ppi)
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The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (1050 x 906, 300 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 445, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters recovery › Large (1547 x 853, 300 ppi)
› Medium (516 x 285, 72 ppi)
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The space shuttle twin solid rocket boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles. They descend on parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where they are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. These images show a typical descent phase and parachute deployment events of the boosters after separation from the tank and orbiter during a shuttle launch. (NASA)

NASA Recovery Ship Liberty Star tows space shuttle solid rocket boosters. › Large (3008 x 2000, 300 ppi)
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During each space shuttle launch, the 176-foot recovery ship Liberty Star is one of two NASA vessels on standby in the solid rocket booster splashdown area off the Florida coast. After two minutes of flight, the boosters separate from the orbiter and external tank at an altitude of approximately 24 miles, descend under parachutes and land in the Atlantic Ocean. The ship’s crew retrieves the boosters and tows them to a refurbishment facility at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. They are removed from the water, disassembled and washed to limit salt water corrosion. The booster motor segments, igniter and nozzle are shipped back to the manufacturer, ATK Space Systems, a division of Alliant Techsystems of Brigham City, Utah, for refurbishment and reuse. The non-motor components and structures are disassembled by United Space Alliance of Houston personnel at the Kennedy Center and refurbished to like-new condition for reuse. (NASA/MSFC)

A free-tail bat hung on as space shuttle Discovery launched March 12 from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on the STS-119 mission to the International Space Station. › Large (647 x 494, 180 ppi)
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A bat hung on to space shuttle Discovery’s external tank during the countdown to launch on May 12 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Analysts reported that the bat was seen on the external tank as the shuttle cleared the launch tower. The final inspection team that surveys the outside of the shuttle and tank for signs of ice buildup observed the small bat, hoping it would fly away before the shuttle engines ignited. The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery’s climb into orbit. Based on images and video, a wildlife expert who provides support to the center said the small creature was a free-tail bat that probably had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist. The bats are named free-tails because the lower half of their tail is free of membrane. (NASA)

A Kennedy Center technician prepares to integrate a replacement unit into an equipment carrier in the background. The unit will be delivered and installed on the Hubble Space Telescope during the STS-125 mission. › Large (2008 x 3000, 300 ppi)
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A Kennedy Center technician prepares to integrate a replacement unit into an equipment carrier in the background. The unit will be delivered and installed on the Hubble Space Telescope during the STS-125 mission. (NASA)

On March 15, on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., space shuttle Discovery’s twin solid rocket boosters ignited after the shuttle main engine thrust level was verified. › Large (1920 x 1080, 96 ppi)
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On March 15, on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., space shuttle Discovery’s twin solid rocket boosters ignited after the shuttle main engine thrust level was verified. Along with the main engines, the boosters provided the thrust needed for shuttle Discovery to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth to begin its journey to the International Space Station. (NASA)

During the countdown to launch of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-119 mission, the three space shuttle main engines started at T-6.6 seconds. › Large (1920 x 1080, 96 ppi)
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During the countdown to launch of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-119 mission, the three space shuttle main engines started at T-6.6 seconds. Along with the solid rocket boosters, they provided the thrust to lift the orbiter off the ground for initial ascent. The main engines continued to operate for 8.5 minutes after launch, the duration of the shuttle's powered flight. Shuttle Discovery launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on March 15. (NASA)

Space shuttle external tank ET-118 photographed by astronauts of the STS-115 mission aboard the shuttle about 21 minutes after lift off. › Large (3032 x 2064, 72 ppi)
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Space shuttle external tank ET-118, which flew on the STS-115 mission in September 2006, was photographed by astronauts aboard the shuttle about 21 minutes after lift off. The photo was taken with a hand-held camera when the tank was about 75 miles above Earth, traveling at slightly more than 17,000 mph. The camera's long focal length telescopic lens tends to compress distances, making the tank appear to be at a lower altitude than it actually is. The space shuttle external tank is the only component of the space shuttle that is not reused. Approximately 8.5 minutes into a shuttle flight, the tank separates from the orbiter. The tank falls in a preplanned trajectory. The majority of it disintegrates in the atmosphere and the rest falls into the ocean. (NASA)

External tank ET-131 as it moves toward the Kennedy Center Vehicle Assembly Building. › Large (1280 x 1024, 72 ppi)
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External tank ET-131, which will help launch space shuttle Discovery on the STS-127 mission to the International Space Station later this year, arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Feb. 21. The tank departed NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Feb. 15 for the sea journey via enclosed barge. Upon arrival at Kennedy, the tank was unloaded and moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building, seen in the background, where it willbe lifted into a vertical position for checkout. Later, ET-131 will be attached to twin solid rocket boosters and orbiter Discovery and rolled out to the launch pad. (NASA/KSC)

During a major winter storm, ATK shipped the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) via train  from its Promontory facility to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The segments are designated for the upcoming Atlantis (STS-128) and Discovery (STS-129) flights scheduled  later this year. › Large (2100 x 1395, 300 ppi)
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During a major winter storm, ATK shipped the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) via train from its Promontory facility to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The segments are designated for the upcoming Atlantis (STS-128) and Discovery (STS-129) flights scheduled later this year. (ATK Launch Systems)

The train carrying NASA’s shuttle Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) prepares to make its trek across country from ATK’s facility to NASA Kennedy Space Center. › Large (2100 x 1395, 300 ppi)
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The train carrying NASA’s shuttle Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) prepares to make its trek across country from ATK’s facility to NASA Kennedy Space Center. NASA and ATK’s segment transporter (seen in the foreground) is used to move the SRB segments from its Promontory facility to its Corrine railroad shipping facility. (ATK Launch Systems)

The “NASA rocket train,” as the railroad likes to call it, is leaving the ATK Corrine railroad shipping facility. › Large (650 x 490, 72 ppi)
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The “NASA rocket train,” as the railroad likes to call it, is leaving the ATK Corrine railroad shipping facility. (ATK Launch Systems)

Space shuttle external tank ET-131 › Large (3504 x 2336, 240 ppi)
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Space shuttle external tank ET-131 was loaded onto an enclosed barge Feb. 15 for shipment from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and towed by a tug during the approximately 850 mile journey to the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (Lockheed Martin)

The STS-126 crew › Large (2008 x 3000, 240 ppi)
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The STS-126 crew on the 225-foot level of Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Center, Fla., are, from left, mission specialists Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen; Pilot Eric Boe; Commander Chris Ferguson; and mission specialists Sandra Magnus, Donald Pettit and Shane Kimbrough. (NASA)

Friction stir weld tool. › Large (4256 x 2832, 240 ppi)
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Friction stir weld tool. (NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham)

ET-129 rolls from the final assembly building at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans toward the covered barge that will deliver it to the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. › Large (3504 x 2336, 240 ppi)
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External fuel tank ET-129 (Lockheed Martin)

John Chapman, External Tank Project Manager, left, and Sherman Avans, External Tank Systems Team Leader, walk ahead of ET-129. › Large (3504 x 2336, 240 ppi)
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External fuel tank ET-129 (Lockheed Martin)

External fuel tank ET-129 is loaded onto a covered barge at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Aug. 6. › Large (2062 x 3073, 240 ppi)
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External fuel tank ET-129 (Lockheed Martin)

External fuel tank ET-129 › Large (2957 x 1683, 240 ppi)
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External fuel tank ET-129 (Lockheed Martin)

ET-127 moves into the Vehicle Assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., July 15. › Large (3412 x 2334, 300 ppi)
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External tank ET-127 for space shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope was moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., July 15. Inside the building, the tank will be raised to the vertical, position, lifted and moved into a checkout cell. ET-127 is scheduled to be mated with the solid rocket boosters Aug. 7. (NASA)

External tank ET-124 rolls out at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, for a five-day sea journey to Kennedy Space Center, Fla. › Large (3412 x 2334, 300 ppi)
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External Tank ET-128 rolls toward a covered barge on its transporter, with the Freedom Star vessel in the background. The Freedom Star tows the transportation barge that will deliver the external tank from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to Kennedy Space Center on Florida's east coast. The five-day sea journey will take the tank from the Mississippi River-Gulf of Mexico Outlet to Florida's Banana River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

Chad Bryant, left, lead electrical engineer in the External Tank Project Office, and Greg Vinyard of Lockheed Martin, prepare to install external tank ET-125's feed through connector in a pressure vessel at the Marshall Center's Test Stand 300. › Large (3000 x 2400, 300 ppi)
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Chad Bryant, left, External Tank Project engineer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and Greg Vinyard of Lockheed Martin, prepare to install External Tank ET-125's feed through connector in a pressure vessel at the Marshall Center's Test Stand 300. The engine cutoff sensor connector is undergoing intensive testing to determine if it was the cause of false sensors readings during two space shuttle launch attempts in December at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (NASA/MSFC)

James Perkins is pictured searching for contamination in the portion of the connector assembly. › Large (1050 x 1070, 300 ppi)
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Components of space shuttle external tank ET-125's engine cut-off sensor system feed-through assembly arrived at the Marshall Center Dec. 31, 2007, where the Engineering Directorate Materials and Processes Laboratory are taking samples for failure analysis. James Perkins is pictured searching for contamination in the portion of the connector assembly that was disconnected from its mating plug, which remains in the external tank on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Perkin's test revealed no contamination in the components. Testing will continue at Marshall through Jan. 11 as part of a long-term solution to the sensor system issue.

The launch of shuttle Atlantis was postponed on Dec. 6 and Dec. 9 because of the engine cut-off sensor. Instrumentation installed during a tanking test on Dec. 18 indicated that one or more intermittent open circuits in the area of the feed- through connector on the external tank’s liquid hydrogen tank. The external parts of ET-125's connector are being replaced with others that have been soldered to ensure pin-to-socket connectivity and allow continuous electrical flow from sensors inside the external tank to the shuttle's computers.

A new target launch date has not been set for the launch of Atlantis on the STS-122 mission while the Space Shuttle Program assesses the work under way on the sensor system. (NASA/MSFC)

Illustration of  feed-through electrical connections at the external tank structural interface, near the aft end of the tank. › Large (749 x 553, 300 ppi)
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Illustration of feed-through electrical connections at the external tank liquid hydrogen tank structural interface, near the aft end of the tank. (NASA/MSFC)

Four engine cut-off (ECO) sensors are mounted on a single, shock isolated carrier plate approximately four feet from the bottom of the liquid hydrogen tank. › Large (960 x 720, 72 ppi)
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Four engine cut-off (ECO) sensors are mounted on a single, shock isolated carrier plate approximately four feet from the bottom of the liquid hydrogen tank. (NASA/MSFC)

Overall Schematic of Engine Cutoff (ECO) and Liquid Level (Point) Sensors › Large (960 x 720, 72 ppi)
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Overall Schematic of Engine Cutoff (ECO) and Liquid Level (Point) Sensors (NASA/MSFC)

Space shuttle Discovery, on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., is targeted to launch Oct. 23. › Large (2000 x 3008, 300 ppi)
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Space shuttle Discovery, on Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., where preparations continue for the targeted launch date of Sept. 30. During the STS-120 mission, shuttle crew members will deliver and install the Italian-built U.S. Node 2, Harmony, a pressurized module that will be an internal connecting port and passageway to additional international science labs and cargo spacecraft. (NASA/KSC)

External Tank ET-125 rolls out of the processing facility at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Sept. 9 to begin its five-day sea journey to the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. › Large (2000 x 3008, 300 ppi)
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Shuttle Discovery is lowered for mating with the external tank and solid rocket boosters for the STS-120 mission, targeted to launch Oct. 23. (NASA/KSC)

External Tank ET-125 rolls out of the processing facility at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Sept. 9 to begin its five-day sea journey to the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. › Large (2008 x 3000, 240 ppi)
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External tank ET-125 began its five-day sea journey from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Sept. 9, headed for the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. ET-125 is scheduled to fly with Discovery on the STS-122 mission, targeted to launch in December from the Kennedy Center. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

In the Vehicle Assembly Building, external tank No. 120 is being lifted out of the checkout cell to high bay 1 where it will be mated with the solid rocket boosters. › Large (2008 x 3000, 300 ppi)
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External tank ET-120 was lifted out of the checkout cell in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and attached to the twin solid rocket boosters Sept. 5. The external tank-solid rocket booster stack will next be attached to the orbiter Discovery. STS-120 is targeted to launch Oct. 23 on a 13-day mission to the International Space Station. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

Graphic of External Tank Liquid Oxygen Feedline Bracket, original and new designs › Medium (474 x 683, 72 ppi)
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External Tank Liquid Oxygen Feedline Bracket - The liquid oxygen feedline is attached to the space shuttle external tank with five brackets that resemble an L-shaped boomerang. The brackets allow for movement or "articulation" of the feedline to compensate for propellant flow during fueling on the launch pad, during subsequent detanking in flight and to compensate for thermal expansion and contraction of the external tank. The current design is aluminum. Brackets are primed, super light weight ablator, or SLA, is applied with a mold and the brackets are machined. The final step is the application of an approximately one-inch layer of sprayed BX-250 foam.
Beginning with Discovery's STS-124 mission in 2008, new redesigned titanium feedline brackets will fly on ET-128. Titanium is 17 times less thermally conductive than aluminum, meaning titanium does not conduct cold (or heat) as well. Thus, the tank will require less thermal protection system material. The amount of foam required for insulation on the tank will thereby be reduced. (NASA)

ET-120 leaves Michoud Assembly Facility. › Large (2048 x 3072, 300 ppi)
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Space shuttle external tank ET-120 was shipped by barge from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. -- an 850-mile journey. The tank departed the Michoud harbor July 24 and is expected to arrive in Florida July 29. ET-120 is slated to fly on the STS-120 mission, targeted for October 2007. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

Tank repair map › Medium (516 x 387, 72 ppi)
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A graphic representation showing the location and type of repairs performed on External Tank, ET-124, damaged by hail when a thunderstorm passed over the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., launch pad on Feb. 26. About 1,000 damage sites, shown in blue, were repaired by removing damaged foam and reapplying specialized pour foam. About 900 sites, shown in yellow, were shallow enough to be repaired using the "sand and blend" technique. Spray repairs were performed to avoid numerous individual repairs in areas where there was a high density of damage. in areas indicated by arrows Sprayed areas are are. Repairs, which delayed launch of the STS-117 mission from March 15 to June, were performed inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Center. (NASA)

Space Shuttle Atlantis atop a crawler transporter May 15. › Medium (379 x 257, 72 ppi)
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Space Shuttle Atlantis, mounted on a mobile launch platform, nears Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, atop a crawler transporter May 15. The launch of Atlantis on mission STS-117 is targeted for June 8. (NASA/KSC)

Lockheed Martin and NASA personnel pose with ET-117. › Large (3198 x 1385, 300 ppi)
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Lockheed Martin and NASA personnel at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans were on hand as external tank ET-117 rolled out April 2 to be loaded onto its seagoing transport for shipment to the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The tank is expected to arrive at Port Canaveral, Fla., April 6. ET-117 is scheduled to fly on the STS-118 mission later this year, but could possibly be substituted for ET-124 on the next shuttle mission, STS-117. (NASA/Michoud Assembly Facility)

Space Shuttle Atlantis arrives on Launch Pad 39A after a six-hour trek, via the crawler-transporter. › Large (3000 x 2008, 300 ppi)
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Space Shuttle Atlantis rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 15, for its 3.4 mile journey to Launch Pad 39A. Resting atop the crawler transporter and traveling just under 1 mph, Atlantis made its approximately six-hour trip to the pad, arriving at 2:09 p.m. CST. The flight of Atlantis to the International Space Station is targeted for March 15. The STS-117 crew will install a new truss segment, retract a set of solar arrays and unfold a new set on the starboard side of the station. Lessons learned from two previous shuttle missions will provide the astronauts with new techniques and tools to perform their duties. The launch of STS-117 will be the first liftoff from Pad 39A in four years. (KSC)

Space Shuttle Atlantis › Large (2008 x 3000, 300 ppi)
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Space Shuttle Atlantis, on top of its transporter, rolls toward the door of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Inside, Atlantis will be lifted into high bay 1 and mated with the external tank and solid rocket boosters which are already in place on the mobile launcher platform. The rollover signals the beginning of a journey to the launch pad for liftoff on mission STS-117, targeted for March 15. The mission is the 21st to the International Space Station and will deliver a new truss segment, unfurl new solar arrays and fold up an old one – a continuation of work on the space station begun during the two previous shuttle missions. (KSC)

External tank No. 124 is lowered between the twin solid rocket boosters in high bay 1 of the Vehicle Assembly Building. › Large (2008 x 3000, 300 ppi)
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External tank ET-124 is lowered between the twin solid rocket boosters in high bay 1 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The tank was mated with the boosters, already in place on the mobile launcher platform, on Jan. 19. Space Shuttle Atlantis is targeted to launch March 16 for its STS-117 mission to the International Space Station. (KSC)

Space Shuttle Discovery nears touchdown. › Large (3000 x 2000, 300 ppi)
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Space Shuttle Discovery nears touchdown on an illuminated Runway 15 at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility as the sun sets on the shortest day of the year, concluding mission STS-116. Aboard are Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot William Oefelein, and Mission Specialists Robert Curbeam, Joan Higginbotham, Nicholas Patrick and Christer Fuglesang, who represents the European Space Agency, as well as Thomas Reiter, who is returning from a 6-month stay on the International Space Station. (NASA/KSC)

Space Shuttle Discovery › Large (3000 x 2075, 300 ppi)
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Space Shuttle Discovery arrived at launch pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Nov. 9, perched atop the mobile launcher platform and carried by the massive crawler transporter. The shuttle assembly travels about one mile per hour on its 4.2-mile journey to the launch pad. The launch window for the STS-116 mission to the International Space Station opens Dec. 7. (NASA/KSC)

Space Shuttle Discovery being moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building. › Large (3008 x 2000, 300 0 ppi)
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Space Shuttle Discovery was moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Oct. 31, where it will be mated to its external tank, ET-123, and twin solid rocket boosters. Discovery is scheduled to roll to Launch Pad 39B no earlier than Nov. 7. The launch window for mission STS-116 opens Dec. 7. (NASA/KSC)

Lockheed Martin and NASA personnel at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans bid farewell June 5 to the space shuttle external tank designated ET-118. › Large (2920 x 1976, 180 ppi)
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On June 5, Lockheed Martin and NASA personnel at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans prepare the space shuttle external tank designated ET-118 for its journey to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The tank, seen here being transported to its seagoing carrier, left the port of New Orleans at 11:15 a.m. CDT on June 5. Carried by NASA’s transport vessel Liberty Star, ET-118 is expected to arrive June 9 at Port Canaveral, Fla. It will be mated in coming months with Space Shuttle Atlantis for the STS-115 mission, scheduled for August 2006. (NASA/Michoud Assembly Facility)

On June 5, Lockheed Martin and NASA personnel at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans prepare the space shuttle external tank designated ET-118 for its journey to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. › Large (3072 x 2048, 180 ppi)
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Lockheed Martin and NASA personnel at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans load the space shuttle external tank designated ET-118 onto its seagoing transport, the NASA ship Liberty Star. The tank left the port of New Orleans at 11:15 a.m. CDT on June 5, and is expected to arrive June 9 at Port Canaveral, Fla. It will be mated in coming months with Space Shuttle Atlantis for the STS-115 mission, scheduled for August 2006. (NASA/Michoud Assembly Facility)

Space shuttle external tank ET-119 rolls out  at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility. › Large (3072 x 2048, 180 ppi)
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Space shuttle external tank ET-119 rolls out at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans to begin its four-to-five-day sea journey to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. ET-119 will help launch Space Shuttle Discovery on its next mission, STS-121. NASA managers are targeting a May launch window. (Lockheed Martin)

Space shuttle external tank ET-119 rolls out at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility. › Large (3072 x 2048, 180 ppi)
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Space shuttle external tank ET-119 rolls out at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans to begin its four-to-five-day sea journey to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. ET-119 will help launch Space Shuttle Discovery on its next mission, STS-121. NASA managers are targeting a May launch window. (Lockheed Martin)

STS-121 astronauts stand in front of External Tank-119. › Large (1800 x 1355, 300 ppi)
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Six astronauts of the STS-121 mission stand in front of External Tank-119 that will help launch Discovery on the next shuttle mission. (Lockheed Martin)

Discovery's external tank, ET-119, rolls from the dock to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. › Large (3000 x 1993, 300 ppi)
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Discovery's external tank, ET-119, rolls from the dock to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA/KSC)

The External Tank › Large (5530 x 2060, 200 ppi)
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The External Tank - 154 feet in length with a diameter of 27.5 feet—is the largest single piece of the Space Shuttle. During launch the External Tank also acts as a backbone for the Orbiter and Solid Rocket Boosters to which it is attached. In separate pressurized tank sections inside, the External Tank holds the liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer for the Shuttle’s three Main Engines. During launch the External Tank feeds the fuel under pressure through 17-inch-wide lines which then branch off into smaller lines that feed directly into the Main Engines. Some 64,000 gallons of fuel are consumed by the Main Engines each minute. Machined from aluminum alloys, the Space Shuttle’s External Tank is the only part of the launch vehicle that is not reused. After its 526,000 gallons of propellants are consumed during the first eight and one-half minutes of flight, it is jettisoned from the Orbiter and breaks up in the upper atmosphere, its pieces falling into remote ocean waters. (Lockheed Martin)


A heater has been added to the topmost bellows on the Space Shuttle External Tank's liquid oxygen feedline. › Large (3072 x 2048, 300 ppi)
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A heater has been added by NASA engineers to the topmost bellows on the Space Shuttle External Tank's liquid oxygen feedline to further reduce the amount of ice and frost formed prior to launch of the Shuttle. The heater is a copper-nickel alloy metal strip heater, similar to heaters used on the Solid Rocket Motor joints, designed to keep the bellows area slightly warmer than freezing -- about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The heater strips are about 53 inches long -- the circumference of the bellows -- and about 0.5 inches wide. The heater was added after new information from debris studies performed by the Space Shuttle Engineering and Integration Office showed that ice forming on the bellows poses a significant debris concern for the Shuttle. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)


Solid Rocket Booster bolt catcher cutaway diagram › Medium (640 x 480, 72 ppi)
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Solid Rocket Booster bolt catcher cutaway diagram (United Space Alliance)


Each Space Shuttle flies with two bolt catchers fixed to the forward, or top, area of the External Tank at the Solid Rocket Booster/External Tank forward attach point. › Medium (640 x 480, 72 ppi)
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Each Space Shuttle flies with two bolt catchers fixed to the forward, or top, area of the External Tank at the Solid Rocket Booster/External Tank forward attach point. Though the bolt catcher is mounted on the External Tank, it is considered part of the Solid Rocket Booster element design. (United Space Alliance)

The original configuration of the thermal protection on the External Tank's Liquid Oxygen Feedline Bellows was angled to allow condensate, or water, to contact the feedline rain-shield and freeze. › Large (2048 x 1536, 72 ppi)
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The original configuration of the thermal protection on the External Tank's Liquid Oxygen Feedline Bellows was angled which allowed condensate, or water, to contact the feedline rain-shield and freeze. The cold surface is caused by the minus-297 degree liquid oxygen in the feedline. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The new design for thermal protection on the External Tank's Liquid Oxygen Feedline Bellows is reshaped to include a › Large (2048 x 1536, 72 ppi)
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The new design for thermal protection on the External Tank's Liquid Oxygen Feedline Bellows is reshaped to include a “drip-lip” that allows condensate, or water, to run off. The new "lip" is squared at its bottom end -- at a slight, 10 degree angle -- so the condensate drips off the feedline rain-shield. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

In the Vehicle Assembly Building, Lead Technician Todd Reeves, with United Space Alliance, attaches one of two bolt catchers on orbiter Discovery’s External Tank. › Large (2000 x 3008, 300 ppi)
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In the Vehicle Assembly Building, Lead Technician Todd Reeves, with United Space Alliance, attaches one of two bolt catchers on orbiter Discovery’s External Tank. At approximately two minutes into launch, Solid Rocket Booster separation begins when pyrotechnic devices fire to break the 25-inch, 62-pound steel bolts that attach the boosters to the tank. (NASA/KSC)

The Space Shuttle's new bolt catcher housing is made from a single piece of aluminum forging, eliminating the weld from the original design. › Medium (254 x 450, 72 ppi)
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The Space Shuttle's new bolt catcher housing is made from a single piece of aluminum forging, eliminating the weld from the original design. In addition, the wall thickness on the catcher has been increased from .125 to .25 inches and is made with a stronger aluminum alloy, AL7050. The bolt catcher captures part of the bolt that attaches the Solid Rocket Boosters to the Shuttle’s External Tank. (NASA/KSC)

ET-121 rolls out at the Michoud Assembly Facility. › Large (3072 x 2048, 300 ppi)
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ET-121 rolls out at the Michoud Assembly Facility. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

ET-121 heads to the barge for shipment to Kennedy Space Center. › Large (3072 x 2048, 180 ppi)
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ET-121 heads to the barge for shipment to Kennedy Space Center. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

Artist concept of the modified External Tank which will fly during STS-114, the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight mission. › Large (2200 x 1760, 220 ppi)
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› Return to Flight External Tank Animation

Artist concept of the modified External Tank which will fly during STS-114, the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight mission. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The redesigned bipod fitting will fly on External Tank 120 during STS-114, the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight mission. › Large (2400 x 1800, 300 ppi)
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Close-up view of the redesigned bipod fitting as it is being installed on External Tank-120. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The redesigned liquid oxygen (LOX) feedline bellows will fly on External Tank 120 during STS-114, the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight mission. › Large (1197 x 403, 266 ppi)
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The redesigned liquid oxygen (LOX) feedline bellows will fly on STS-114, the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight mission. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The Protuberance Air Load Ramp, or PAL ramp, is part of External Tank  120 and will fly during STS-114, the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight mission. › Large (2560 x 1920, 300 ppi)
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The Protuberance Air Load Ramp, or PAL ramp, is on External Tank 120. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

External Tank 120 at Michoud Assembly Facility on Dec. 31, 2004. › Large (2048 x 3072, 180 ppi)
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External Tank 120 is loaded onto its covered barge at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on Dec. 31, 2004. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

External Tank 120 leaves Michoud Assembly Facility on Dec. 31, 2004. › Large (3072 x 2048, 180 ppi)
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External Tank 120 rolls out at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on Dec. 31, 2004. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

External Tank 120 leaves Michoud Assembly Facility on Dec. 31, 2004. › Large (2048 x 3072, 180 ppi)
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External Tank 120 rolls out at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on Dec. 31, 2004. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

External Tank 120 leaves Michoud Assembly Facility on Dec. 31, 2004. › Large (3072 x 2048, 180 ppi)
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External Tank 120 rolls out at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on Dec. 31, 2004. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The STS-114 crew is shown with ET-120, which will carry the fuel for the next Space Shuttle flight. › Large (2115 x 2400, 300 ppi)
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The STS-114 crew is shown with ET-120. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

External Tank 120 easily makes the short trip to the Vertical Assembly Building at Michoud Assembly Facility. › Large (3072 x 2048, 180 ppi)
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External Tank 120 easily makes the short trip to the Vertical Assembly Building at Michoud Assembly Facility. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

External Tank 120 is vertical and ready to enter Cell A of the Vertical Assembly Building at Michoud Assembly Facility. › Large (2048 x 3072, 180 ppi)
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External Tank 120 prepares to enter Cell A of the Vertical Assembly Building at Michoud Assembly Facility. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

Workers at the Michoud Assembly Facility raise External Tank 120 from horizontal to vertical. › Large (2048 x 2958, 300 ppi)
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Workers at the Michoud Assembly Facility raise External Tank 120 from horizontal to vertical. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

Workers guide External Tank 120 into the Vertical Assembly Building at Michoud Assembly Facility. › Large (3072 x 2048, 180 ppi)
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Workers guide External Tank 120 into the Vertical Assembly Building at Michoud Assembly Facility. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The STS-114 crew, the next crew slated for flight on the Space Shuttle, examines the work being done on the External Tank's intertank flange area. › Large (2400 x 1883, 300 ppi)
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The STS-114 crew, the next crew slated for flight on the Space Shuttle, examines the work being done on the External Tank's intertank flange area. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The Protuberance Air Load Ramp, or PAL ramp, is one of the focus areas for the External Tank Return to Flight efforts. › Large (3000 x 2000, 300 ppi)
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The Protuberance Air Load Ramp, or PAL ramp, is one of the focus areas for the External Tank Return to Flight efforts. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)
The Space Shuttle External Tank's bipod area is being readied for the bipod fitting. › Large (2400 x 1837, 300 ppi)
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The External Tank's bipod area is being readied for the bipod fitting. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The Space Shuttle's External Tank's bipod fittings -- covered by foam ramps -- as flown on the Space Shuttle Columbia. › Large (2400 x 1800, 300 ppi)
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Illustration shows the External Tank's bipod fittings -- covered by foam ramps -- as flown on the Space Shuttle Columbia. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)
The illustration shows the External Tank's bipod fitting as it will fly when the Space Shuttle returns to flight. › Large (2400 x 1800, 300 ppi)
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Illustration shows the External Tank's bipod fitting as it will fly when the Space Shuttle returns to flight. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

When the Space Shuttle returns to flight, the External Tank will fly with the bipod fitting exposed -- without a bipod foam ramp. › Large (3072 x 2048, 300 ppi)
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When the Space Shuttle returns to flight, the External Tank bipod fitting will be exposed, without a bipod foam ramp. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)
The Liquid Oxygen Feedline Bellows is one of the focus areas for the External Tank Return to Flight. › Large (2400 x 1541, 300 ppi)
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The Liquid Oxygen Feedline Bellows is one of the focus areas for the External Tank Return to Flight. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

ET-120, the External Tank that will carry the fuel for the STS-114 Space Shuttle Mission, is shown in the modification center at the Michoud Assembly Facility. › Large (2400 x 1600, 300 ppi)
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ET-120 is shown in the modification center at the Michoud Assembly Facility. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

Redesigned Liquid Oxygen feedline bellows › Large (3000 x 2250, 300 ppi)
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The redesigned Liquid Oxygen feedline bellows, shown here, has a new "drip lip" on its cover that allows condensate to run off, thus reducing the potential for ice buildup. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

New processes are being used to apply foam on the External Tank's intertank flange area. › Large (2111 x 3000, 300 ppi)
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New processes are being used to apply foam on the External Tank's intertank flange area. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

Technicians ready a panel for testing foam loss on the External Tank's intertank tank. › Large (1950 x 3008, 300 ppi)
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Technicians ready a panel for testing foam loss on the External Tank's intertank tank. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

The External Tank's in-flight imaging system is being attached to ET 120, the next tank slated for flight. › Large (3000 x 1902, 300 ppi)
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The External Tank's in-flight imaging system is being attached to ET 120. (Lockheed Martin/NASA Michoud)

An artist's concept of the space shuttle's external tank without the Protuberance Air Load Ramps, also known as PAL Ramps. › Medium (720 x 540, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

An artist's concept of the space shuttle's external tank without the Protuberance Air Load Ramps, also known as PAL Ramps. STS-121 is the first space shuttle launch to fly without these ramps on the external tank. Previously, the ramps were manually sprayed wedge-shaped layers of foam along the pressurization lines and cable running along the side of the tank. They were originally designed as a safety precaution to protect the lines and cable tray from airflow that could travel beneath them during the space shuttle's ascent. (NASA)

An artist's concept of the Protuberance Air Load Ramps, also known as PAL Ramps › Medium (720 x 540, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

An artist's concept of the Protuberance Air Load Ramps, also known as PAL Ramps, running alongside the pressurization lines and cable tray attached to the space shuttle's external fuel tank. STS-121 is the first space shuttle mission to fly without these ramps on the external tank. The two ramps were wedge-shaped layers of foam manually sprayed on the tank next to the lines and cable tray. They were originally designed as a safety precaution to protect the lines and cable tray from airflow that could travel beneath them during the space shuttle's ascent. (NASA)

The space shuttle's external tank uses metal support brackets to attach the pressurization lines to the tank. The brackets are protected from the ice and frost that can form on the outside of the tank before and during launch by 34 foam segments called ice/frost ramps (inset). › Medium (720 x 556, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

The space shuttle's external tank uses metal support brackets to attach the pressurization lines to the tank. The brackets are protected from the ice and frost that can form on the outside of the tank before and during launch by 34 foam segments called ice/frost ramps (inset). (NASA)

› Large (1488 x 1240, 72 ppi)
› Medium (720 x 600, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

The space shuttle's external tank uses metal support brackets to attach the pressurization lines to the tank. The brackets are covered with foam ramps to protect them from the ice and frost that can form on the tank before and during the launch. (NASA)

This computer-generated image shows a cable tray, left, and two pressurization lines separated from the surface of the space shuttle's external fuel tank by an ice-frost ramp. The foam ramps protect the cables and metal bracket surrounding the two pressurization lines from the ice and frost that can form on the outside surface of the tank just before and during launch. › Medium (720 x 634, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

This computer-generated image shows a cable tray, left, and two pressurization lines separated from the surface of the space shuttle's external fuel tank by an ice-frost ramp. The foam ramps protect the cables and metal bracket surrounding the two pressurization lines from the ice and frost that can form on the outside surface of the tank just before and during launch. (NASA)

External tank 119 rolls out of the final assembly building at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on its way to the Kennedy Space Center. › Large (3072 x 2048, 72 ppi)
› Medium (720 x 480, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

External tank 119 rolls out of the final assembly building at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on its way to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to be mated with the solid rocket boosters and Space Shuttle Discovery for the STS-121 mission. The space shuttle's external tank was returned to the Michoud facility for safety modifications including removal of the Protuberance Air Load, or PAL, Ramps. (NASA)

External tank 119 rolls out of the final assembly building at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on its way to the Kennedy Space Center. › Large (2660 x 2128, 72 ppi)
› Medium (720 x 576, 72 ppi)
› Small (100 x 75, 72 ppi)

External tank 119 is prepared for its trip from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to be mated with the solid rocket boosters and Space Shuttle Discovery for the STS-121 mission. The space shuttle's external tank was returned to the Michoud facility for safety modifications including removal of the Protuberance Air Load, or PAL, Ramps. (NASA)