CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - In the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the accordion-like arm of a rack insertion device moves a science rack into position for installation inside Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo during processing for space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission to the International Space Station.    The science racks Leonardo delivers will be transferred to laboratories on the station. Three spacewalks during STS-131 will include work to attach a spare ammonia tank assembly to the station's exterior and return a European experiment from outside the station's Columbus module. STS-131 will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the station. Launch is targeted for March 18, 2010.  Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller KSC-2009-6568

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - In the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the accordion-like arm of a rack insertion device moves a science rack into position for installation inside Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo during processing for space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. The science racks Leonardo delivers will be transferred to laboratories on the station. Three spacewalks during STS-131 will include work to attach a spare ammonia tank assembly to the station's exterior and return a European experiment from outside the station's Columbus module. STS-131 will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the station. Launch is targeted for March 18, 2010. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller KSC-2009-6568

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - In the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the accordion-like arm of a rack insertion device moves a science rack into position for installation inside Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo during processing for space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. The science racks Leonardo delivers will be transferred to laboratories on the station. Three spacewalks during STS-131 will include work to attach a spare ammonia tank assembly to the station's exterior and return a European experiment from outside the station's Columbus module. STS-131 will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the station. Launch is targeted for March 18, 2010. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller

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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1960 - 1969
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