This space shuttle thermal insulation tile was removed after being damaged on the first flight of Columbia in 1981. Black reusable insulation tiles shielded 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) during re-entry into the atmosphere. About 23,000 black tiles were used primarily on the upper forward fuselage and the underside of the Shuttle, areas that sustain high temperatures during descent. NASA transferred a number of such tiles to the Museum after the STS-1 mission.
Transferred from NASA Johnson Space Center