Black HRSI (high-temperature reusable surface insulation) tiles were an integral component of the Space Shuttle orbiter's thermal protection system. The system shielded the vehicle from the destructively searing heat of re-entry into the atmosphere and also provided passive thermal control in orbit. About 23,000 black tiles covered the entire underside of the vehicle, as well as portions of the vertical tail, wings, and forward and aft fuselage where temperatures reach 650-1,260 degrees C (1,200-2,300 degrees F). This tile was removed from the nose landing gear door after being damaged on the first flight of Columbia in 1981.
NASA transferred a number of such tiles to the Museum after the STS-1 mission.
Transferred from NASA Johnson Space Center