In Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 1 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United Space Alliance technician Jeff Holmes uses heat lamps in a putty repair on some of the high-temperature reusable surface insulation tiles, or HRSI tiles, on the lower forward fuselage of space shuttle Atlantis.
An average of 125 tiles are replaced after each mission either due to handling damage or accumulated repairs. These black tiles are optimized for maximum emissivity, which means they lose heat faster than white tiles. This property is required to maximize heat rejection during the hot phase of reentry. Atlantis next is slated to deliver an Integrated Cargo Carrier and Russian-built Mini Research Module to the International Space Station on the STS-132 mission. Launch is targeted for May 14, 2010. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller