Tile, Shuttle Insulation, Black, STS-9

This tile was removed from Columbia after being damaged on the STS-9 mission in 1983. 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 atmosphere and also provided passive thermal control in orbit. About 23,000 HRSI 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). NASA transferred a number of such tiles to the Museum in 1986.