Photos: Readers Share Memories Of NASA’s Final Shuttle Launches

by Elizabeth Howell on July 10, 2014

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STS-135 Atlantis lifts off on July 8, 2011 with a crowd of people watching the event, the last launch of the shuttle program. Credit: Remco Timmermans

STS-135 Atlantis lifts off on July 8, 2011 with a crowd of people watching the event, the last launch of the shuttle program. Credit: Remco Timmermans

With the three-year anniversary this week of STS-135 — the final launch of the program — we invited readers of Universe Today to send in your pictures of shuttle experiences. We’ve been spoiled with several entries into our Flickr pool, which we’ve posted below.

Also, noted space tweep Remco Timmermans generously provided us with dozens of pictures, of which we chose just a few to represent his experiences at STS-135. That picture at the top gave us goosebumps. Down below you can see more of Remco’s shots (thank you!) and some of the best other shots that readers sent in.

NASA astronauts Mike Massimino (left) and Douglas Wheelock flank Elmo during a NASA tweetup in July 2011 for the last shuttle launch, STS-135. Credit: Remco Timmermans

NASA astronauts Mike Massimino (left) and Douglas Wheelock flank Elmo during a NASA tweetup in July 2011 for the last shuttle launch, STS-135. Credit: Remco Timmermans

A sign points to the NASA Tweetup location for STS-135, the final shuttle launch, in July 2011. Credit: Remco Timmermans

A sign points to the NASA Tweetup location for STS-135, the final shuttle launch, in July 2011. Credit: Remco Timmermans

Shuttle Atlantis prior to the last launch of the program, STS-135, in July 2011. Credit: Remco Timmermans

Shuttle Atlantis prior to the last launch of the program, STS-135, in July 2011. Credit: Remco Timmermans

Launch Pad 39A is illuminated by light prior to the launch of Atlantis for STS-135 in July 2011. Credit: Remco Timmermans

Launch Pad 39A is illuminated by light prior to the launch of Atlantis for STS-135 in July 2011. Credit: Remco Timmermans

The "Astrovan" (right) ferries the STS-135 crew to Launch Pad 39A prior to the July 8, 2011 launch, the last of the shuttle program. Credit: Remco Timmermans

The “Astrovan” (right) ferries the STS-135 crew to Launch Pad 39A prior to the July 8, 2011 launch, the last of the shuttle program. Credit: Remco Timmermans

One of the shuttle's external rocket boosters is towed back to port following the launch of STS-135 in July 2011, the last of the shuttle program. Source: Remco Timmermans

One of the shuttle’s external rocket boosters is towed back to port following the launch of STS-135 in July 2011, the last of the shuttle program. Source: Remco Timmermans

Thanks also to numerous other Universe Today contributors who posted pictures to our Flickr pool. We’ll include some samples below. Nathanial Burton-Bradford who provided a 3-D picture of Atlantis lifting off on its last flight (use red and blue glasses to view properly):

A 3-D picture of Atlantis lifting off on the last shuttle mission of the program, STS-135, on July 8, 2011. Credit:  Nathanial Burton-Bradford

A 3-D picture of Atlantis lifting off on the last shuttle mission of the program, STS-135, on July 8, 2011. Credit: Nathanial Burton-Bradford

Robert Karma provided several stunning pictures of STS-131, which featured Discovery, including one showing the shuttle rising high in the sky beside the American flag, and another with the moment the solid rocket boosters separated from Discovery:

STS-131 Discovery flies high in the sky following its launch Feb. 24, 2011. Credit: Robert Karma

STS-131 Discovery flies high in the sky following its launch Feb. 24, 2011. Credit: Robert Karma

The solid rocket boosters separate from Discovery during the flight of STS-131 on Feb. 24, 2011. Credit: Robert Karma

The solid rocket boosters separate from Discovery during the flight of STS-131 on Feb. 24, 2011. Credit: Robert Karma

Also, thanks to Ralph Hightower for providing this image of STS-135 on Flickr:

The STS-135 Atlantis launch viewed from the NASA Causeway in Florida on July 8, 2011. Credit:  Ralph Hightower

The STS-135 Atlantis launch viewed from the NASA Causeway in Florida on July 8, 2011. Credit: Ralph Hightower

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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