May 22, 2011

NASA: July 8 Will Be Atlantis’ Final Launch Date

NASA announced on Friday that July 8 will be the date for space shuttle Atlantis to embark on its final mission.

NASA said the 12-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will have a much smaller crew than normal, consisting of just 4 astronauts.

"NASA's final space shuttle flight is targeted to launch July 8 at about 11:40 am (1540 GMT) from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida," a statement said.

"Four veteran astronauts will fly aboard shuttle Atlantis to deliver supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station."

The space agency said an official decision on the launch date and time will be announced following a flight readiness review meeting on June 28.

Atlantis was postponed from its original June launch time after technical problems caused Endeavour's last mission to delay. 

The shuttle program will end after Atlanta's mission, leaving Russia's space agency as the only form of transportation to the ISS.

NASA said for its final mission, Atlantis will "deliver an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically refuel satellites in space."

The shuttle's commander will be NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, who has flown on two previous shuttle missions. 

The STS-135 mission will be the 33rd space flight for space shuttle Atlantis, as well as the 135th flight for the space shuttle program.

After the final missions, the space shuttles will be sent to different museums across the country for their final resting place.


Image Caption: Atlantis makes its rollover to the VAB. Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller


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