Collection Item Summary:
Black reusable insulation tiles shielded the entire underside of the Space Shuttle orbiter, as well as portions of the vertical tail, wings, and forward and aft fuselage where temperatures reached 1,200-2,300 degrees F (650-1,260 degrees C) during re-entry into the atmosphere. About 23,000 High-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation (HRSI) tiles were used on those areas of the Shuttle that sustained very high temperatures during descent. Each tile had a unique part number and shape related to its precise location on the orbiter. This tile was meant to be placed on the upper or lower forward fuselage.
NASA transferred a number of unused tiles to the Museum when the Shuttle program ended in 2012.