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Since 1970, Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has been at the forefront of the Space Shuttle Program. As NASA's lead organization for development of space transportation and propulsion systems, MSFC developed the Shuttle's three main components: the External Tank (ET), the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB), and the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME). The ET is the giant cylinder and backbone for the Orbiter and SRBs, and houses the propellant for the SSMEs. The SRBs, including the Reusable Solid Rocket Motors, power the first two minutes of flight, redirect thrust, and steer the Space Shuttle toward orbit; the SSMEs that lift the Shuttle off the launch pad are the world's first reusable rocket engines. During its first two decades of flight, the Space Shuttle has supported the construction of the International Space Station; made maintenance flights to the Hubble Space Telescope; launched missions to study Jupiter, Venus, and the Sun; launched the Chandra X-ray Observatory; and conducted hundreds of scientific research experiments in onboard laboratories supported by MSFC. The images contained in this gallery reflect MSFC's role in the development of the three Shuttle components, testing, the analysis performed by engineers and scientists, and the various activities during flights.
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