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Space shuttle Atlantis blasted off at 11:29 a.m.

Space shuttle Atlantis launched today, marking the final mission and complete retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet.

Atlantis is the last of three remaining operational orbiters in NASA's Space Shuttle fleet. In February 2011, Space Shuttle Discovery was the first of the three to launch on its final mission after nearly 30 years of space travel. Then, in April 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavour was set to launch, but was delayed due to a broken set of heaters. It took off on its final mission in mid May instead.

Now, NASA's Space Shuttle fleet will be three-for-three as Atlantis blasts into orbit for its last mission as well.

Space Shuttle Atlantis first flew into space on mission STS-51-J in October 1985. It has completed 32 missions, spent 293 days in space, carried 191 crews and has traveled 120,650,907 miles. Atlantis is the only orbiter that cannot draw power from the International Space Station while docked there. Instead, it must provide its own power for fuel cells.

Today marks Atlantis' 33rd and final mission, STS-135. It will be a 12-day mission to the International Space Station with the purpose of delivering supplies and spare parts, which will be contained in the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module.

Atlantis mission STS-135 carries a crew of four, including Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.

"That is the most beautiful vehicle we've had to fly in space, ever, and it's going to be a long time until you see a vehicle roll out to the pad that looks as beautiful as that," said Walheim. "How can you beat that? An airplane on the side of a rocket. It's absolutely stunning."

Space shuttle Atlantis took off at 11:29 a.m. ET from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. While some reports noted that weather could be obstacle possibly causing a delay, the astronauts started boarding Atlantis around 8:00 a.m. and the hatch was closed around 9:21 a.m. for flight.

Reports have estimated that the crowd gathered in the area to see the launch ranged from 500,000 to 1 million people.


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By lexluthermiester on 7/9/2011 2:11:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The shuttle was a fantastic design well ahead of it's time. It's proved itself.


This is true to a point. The Shuttles were built use then current technologies in new ways. A few were created for the shuttle, but the design was based on decades old methodologies and technologies. Innovative, yes, but not really that far ahead. Now the Concorde was ahead of it's time and in some ways still is. But don't get me wrong, the shuttles are remarkable machines!

quote:
Some of us grew up watching it launch and dreamed of going to the stars ourselves, so stop trying to piss on the parade here and show some respect.


Totally with you on that one and yes we did! Like our parents before us with the Apollo missions, my heart was filled with a sense of national pride and my mind filled with awe the first time I watched[on TV sadly] the Columbia climb into the sky. Good times....

Maven, bluntly, shut it! As the man said, quit pissing on our collective parade.


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