Skip to main content

Space History Photo: The First Space Shuttle External Tank

space history, nasa, space shuttle
The first Space Shuttle External Tank rolls off the assembly line on Sept. 9, 1977. (Image credit: NASA.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the first Space Shuttle External Tank (ET), the Main Propulsion Test Article (MPTA), rolls off the assembly line on September 9, 1977 at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The MPTA was then transported to the National Space Technology Laboratories (currently called Stennis Space Center) in southern Mississippi where it was used in the static test firing of the Shuttle's cluster of three main engines. Marshall Space Flight Center was responsible for developing the External Tank. External Tank contains two tanks, one for liquid hydrogen and one for liquid oxygen, and a plumbing system that supplies propellant to the Main Engines of the Space Shuttle Orbiter.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Founded in 1958, NASA is a civilian space agency aimed at exploring the universe with space telescopes,  satellites, robotic spacecraft, astronauts and more. The space agency has 10 major centers based across the U.S. and launches robotic and crewed missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. It's astronaut corps is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. To follow NASA's latest mission, follow the space agency on Twitter or any other social channel, of visit: nasa.gov