January 20, 2011
NASA Announces Date For Final Shuttle Flight
NASA announced on Thursday that it plans to send space shuttle Atlantis on the final mission of the US shuttle program on June 28.
"It is NASA's intent to fly the mission with orbiter Atlantis carrying the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station," a statement said.
President Barack Obama signed a bill authorizing NASA to conduct the third and final mission, but the space agency's budget for 2011 remains to be approved so the shuttle flight depends on congressional authorization of extra funds.
The Atlantis flight would be the shuttle program's 135th and final mission to space.
The shuttle Discovery will take on its final voyage on February 24 and space shuttle Endeavour is set to embark on its final mission April 19.
NASA's shuttle program got its start when the shuttle Columbia launched on April 12, 1981.
Space shuttle Enterprise is already a museum piece in a hanger outside Washington D.C.
The other two shuttles of the original fleet were destroyed in explosions. Space shuttle Columbia exploded during re-entry from orbit in 2003, and Challenger failed shortly after liftoff in 1986.
Image Caption: This image from 1996 shows space shuttle Atlantis as it began the slow journey to Launch Pad 39A from the Vehicle Assembly Building. This dramatic view looking directly down onto the shuttle atop the Mobile Launcher Platform and crawler-transporter was taken from the VAB roof approximately 525 feet (160 meters) above the ground. Image Credit: NASA
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