Black HRSI (high-temperature reusable surface insulation) tiles were an integral component of the Space Shuttle orbiter's thermal protection system. This system shielded the vehicle from the destructively searing heat of re-entry into the earth's atmosphere and also provided passive thermal control in orbit. About 23,000 HRSI tiles covered the entire underside of the orbiter, as well as portions of the vertical tail, wings, and forward and aft fuselage where temperatures reach 1,200°- 2,300° F (650 - 1,275° C). This tile was removed from the left wing 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