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Locating space shuttle tiles by number


Think of the space shuttle orbiter as a big puzzle with each of its heat shield tiles a puzzle piece.

All space shuttle thermal protection system (TPS) tiles are assigned a serial number identifying where on the orbiters they are to be installed. Each tile is individually made to fit a specific location.

Tile serial numbers normally consist of four segments, the first three separated by dashes, such as:
VO70-395901-379 TTBOPJ
VO70-291353-033-008283
VO70-191001-011 7EBIEX
The first two elements of the serial number are letters 'VT' or 'VO'. The 'V' is for Vehicle, the 'O' is orbiter.

The second set of six digits is the location on the vehicle. The following table provides basic locations.

1   Wing   190XXX
191XXX
192XXX
193XXX
195XXX
197XXX
  Wings to lower closeout
Wings lower
Instrumented—all over
Lower elevons
Wings upper
Upper elevons
    198XXX   Wings lower and upper inboard elevon
    199XXX   Wings upper and lower leading edge

2   Vertical
Stabilizer
  291XXX
292XXX
293XXX
  Vertical stabilizer
Vertical stabilizer
Vertical stabilizer

3   Fuselage   390XXX
391XXX
394XXX
395XXX
  Upper forward fuselage
Forward fuselage upper, lower
Mid fuselage sides and lower
Aft fuselage lower, sides and body flap
    XXX013
XXX014
XXX015
XXX016
XXX031
XXX032
XXX033
XXX034

90X
396XXX
397XXX
399XXX
  Body flap
Body flap
Body flap
Body flap
Body flap
Body flap
Body flap
Body flap

Aft heatshield base and dome
OMS
Payload bay doors
Forward fuselage around nose cap


Flown-vs-Unflown

All tiles in NASA's Tiles for Teachers program are unflown. In general, flown tiles are only removed from the orbiters after they are damaged or need to be removed to service the vehicle. Since this is the case, most flown tiles are in very bad condition and not circulated.

Source: NASA

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