Country of Origin: United States of America
Length: 12 inches (30.5cm)
Width: 5 1/4 inches (15.2cm)
Depth: 3 3/4 inches (10.2cm)
ceramic bonded silica fiber with glass coating, Nomex felt, RTV adhesive
This is a black HRSI (high-temperature reusable surface insulation) tile from the Space Shuttle's first flight. Tiles are an integral component of the Space Shuttle orbiter's thermal protection system. This system shields the vehicle from the destructively searing heat of re-entry into the atmosphere and also provides passive thermal control in orbit. About 23,000 black tiles shield 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 degrees F (650-1,260 degrees C).
This tile was removed from the aft fuselage body flap 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