Launch Updates - Analytical Graphics, Inc.

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New Launch: 2011 July 8, 1529 UTC
Site: Air Force Eastern Test Range, Florida, USA
Launcher: Space Shuttle (Atlantis)
International Designator(s): 2011-031A
 
SSC Name Owner
37736 STS 135 US


"The space shuttle Atlantis soared into the heavens and the history books Friday (July 8), kicking off the last-ever mission of NASA's storied shuttle program. "Despite a bleak forecast of thunderstorms and clouds, the shuttle beat the weather in a stunning midday launch, sailing into the sky on one final voyage. The coutndown toward liftoff took a dramatic pause at T minus 31 seconds while ground crews verified that a vent arm at the top of the shuttle was fully retracted. NASA was quickly able to push on toward liftoff.

"Atlantis blasted off at 11:29 a.m. EDT (1529 GMT) from Launch Pad 39A here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, thrilling huge throngs of spectators who had descended on Florida's Space Coast to see the swan song of an American icon. NASA estimated that between 750,000 and 1 million people turned out to watch history unfold before their eyes."

"Commander Chris Ferguson is leading a skeleton crew of four on Atlantis' STS-135 flight. He's joined by pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus. Other shuttle missions over the years have typically carried six or seven spaceflyers, but NASA wanted to use every bit of available space to pack extra cargo on this last drop-off mission to the station.

"The astronauts will deliver about 9,500 pounds (4,318 kilograms) of cargo to the station. Atlantis is also delivering several different science experiments, one of which—the Robotic Refueling Mission—is an attempt to demonstrate a way to refuel satellites robotically on orbit.

"In addition, Atlantis is also carrying two iPhone 4 smartphones loaded with apps to help astronauts perform experiments in space. This represents the first time iPhones have ever gone to space."

"Atlantis will chase the station down for a while, finally docking with the US$100 billion orbiting lab on Sunday (July 10). The shuttle is scheduled to return to Earth for the final time on July 20."

Source: Space.com, "NASA Launches Space Shuttle on Historic Final Mission"

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