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Atlantis embarks on final shuttle mission

By

July 8, 2011

The space shuttle Atlantis successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida this morning...

The space shuttle Atlantis successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida this morning, on the final-ever shuttle flight

Image Gallery (9 images)

Despite the possibility of delays due to weather, the space shuttle Atlantis successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on schedule this morning at 11:26 EDT. It is the final flight both for the Atlantis, and for NASA's 30-year shuttle program as a whole. The 12-day STS-135 mission will see four crew members traveling to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver supplies.

The Atlantis was the fourth shuttle built, and first launched on Oct. 3rd, 1985. This is its 33rd flight, and the 135th flight in the entire shuttle program.

Aboard the Atlantis for this historic flight are Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialist Sandra Magnus and Mission Specialist Rex Walheim. STS-135 will see the spacecraft delivering the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module to the ISS, which contains 8,000 pounds (3,629 kg) of supplies and spare parts for keeping the space station running once the shuttles are no longer able to make deliveries. Russia's Soyuz capsule will henceforth be the only way of reaching the station.

From left, are STS-135 Mission Specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus, Pilot Doug Hurley...

The Atlantis will also be dropping off the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), "an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically refuel satellites in space, even satellites not designed to be serviced." Additionally, it will be returning an ammonia pump that had previously failed on the ISS.

The shuttle is scheduled to return to Earth and land at the Kennedy Space Center on July 20th. At that time, we'll be taking a closer look at the history of the shuttle program, and NASA's future plans for space travel.

All images courtesy NASA

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
5 Comments

bummer, too bad NASA did not figure out how to hook up a truck with no driver to that tank and two solid rocket boosters for the ISS, delivery, trash burned on reentry by robotic control instead of the media frenzy about using Soyez umm, why are the Russians charging US for delivery to the "International Space Station" keyword "International"

Bill Bennett
8th July, 2011 @ 08:16 pm PDT

I'm glad the US government is so concerned about their spiraling foreign debt that they can spend billions on this space "program".

This stupidity is so astronomically huge (pun intended) that it defies logic.

How many americans will go hungry tonight? To think Obama wants to borrow more - hardly surprising.

Australian
10th July, 2011 @ 02:13 am PDT

A sad day for aerospace, many jobs lost due to no space shuttle successor being ready. It's a pity that there are narrow minded individuals who can't see the relevance of progressive aerospace technology such as this being maintained.

Viewing such programs simply as extravagent money pits ignores the national and international economic benefits provided by them, and the families and businesses who are supported by it.

PeetEngineer
11th July, 2011 @ 07:29 am PDT

Dear Aussie. NASA's portion of the Federal Budget comprises now .5% or less of said budget after Obama massively (astronomically) inflated, in two short years, the nation's debt for his "hope & change" socialist Utopia and racially based programs. And I thought Bush was a looser.

Rest assured, NOTHING will be had after spending trillions of dollars to show for it save for a more dependent people. Now that sounds stupid.

Utopians dream up the hungry and in the process construct a Police State. But true, if those who have shipped American jobs, manufacturing overseas see to the destruction of the economy, you might indeed see hunger day and night here in America.

Without the robust industrial economy, a homogenous people unified with, "The Vision Thing" as Bush the Elder coined it, the National Space Program has, ah, fallen out of orbit. Apollo was killed off by Nixon and the shuttle replacement, Venture Star, by politicians and bad engineers.

Rest assured Aussie, if Australia is threatened with invasion again, the US will not be there as we are quickly headed to the ashtray of history. But hey, it has been a good smoke. No?

lwesson
11th July, 2011 @ 07:35 am PDT

Australian--- The money poorly spent by NASA has done more to ease the plight of the poor that all the money ever spent on welfare.

The spin-off products from technology developed for the space program benefit your life every day, and have more than paid back the investment. But given that NASA bought more than one shuttle, of such a lousy design is proof that space delivery should be contracted out to private industry, and that they need to supply their own vehicle. It would have been far cheaper in the long run to pay for several competing prototypes, and picking the best one.

Incidentally the the Space Shuttle, and B-1 bomber both have the same problem; an overly intricate insufficiently robust design. The lessen is "Fuel is cheep, maintenance is expensive."

Slowburn
12th July, 2011 @ 01:09 am PDT
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