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NASA gives away pieces of space shuttle to schools


Get ready, science teachers.

Starting Wednesday, NASA is giving away 7,000 space shuttle heat shield tiles to schools and universities that want to pique their students' interest in the shuttle program with a little piece of space history.

Act fast, though. Requests are on a first-come, first-served basis. And only one tile will be given per institution.

Schools that are interested can file a request for a tile here. Click on the tile icon to log on to the request page. A log-in ID and password may be obtained by registering on the site.

Unlike Cyber Monday, there is a shipping and handling fee, amounting to $23.40, which is payable to the shipping company.

NASA fanboys need not apply. A school's Department of Education statistics tracking number is necessary to register.

With the shuttle program slated to end next year, NASA said the offer was made to "preserve the program's history and inspire the next generation of space explorers, scientists and engineers."

There are more than 20,000 heat shield tiles on a shuttle. They protect the spacecraft from extreme temperatures when it reenters the Earth's atmosphere.

Like much of the space shuttle, some of the tiles were developed and manufactured in Southern California. Rockwell Manufacturing Co. made the lightweight ceramic-fiber tiles at its Palmdale facility.


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-- W.J. Hennigan

Photo: People watch the space shuttle Discovery move to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Sept. 9. Credit: Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel

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