Gallery: Atlantis, the Last Shuttle on the Launchpad

by Nancy Atkinson on July 5, 2011

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

Space Shuttle Atlantis on the launchpad. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

It was the ultimate experience for a space enthusiast. Universe Today photographer Michael Deep had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the last shuttle that will ever sit on a launchpad and head to space. Enjoy some unique views of space shuttle Atlantis before she goes down into history as the final shuttle to launch to space.

And stay tuned all week for great photos and articles to chronicle the final shuttle launch: Universe Today photographers Alan Walters, Mike Deep, and David Gonzales as well as writers Ken Kremer and Jason Rhian are on location at Kennedy Space Center to provide full coverage.

Sunrise at launchpad 39A. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

A view of Atlantis from the gantry. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

A view of the walkway to enter the shuttle. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

Atlantis on the launchpad. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today

Unique view of shuttle Atlantis on the pad. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

The shuttle's SRBs get the stack off the ground. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today

The view from the top of launchpad 39A at KSC. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

Atlantis. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

Looking down at Atlantis from the gantry. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

A wide-angle view of Atlantis on the launchpad. Credit: Mike Deep for Universe Today.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

bdlaacmm July 5, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Good riddance to the space shuttle! This uber-expensive, resource-hogging white elephant has chained us to Low Earth Orbit for decades now. We could have had colonies on the Moon by now, had it not been for that pointless albatross. Time to move along – the planets beckon!

Anonymous July 5, 2011 at 6:33 PM

I greet the end of the shuttle period with mixed feelings. I agree that the shuttle has been largely an expensive way to perform gymnastics in orbit. I went from teen years with the shuttle until now, so this has been the big manned space program through my adult life. Now it is almost over. The problem is there is nothing clear on the drawing board that will head us out to the moon or beyond. Further, even if there were there has not been a clear compelling case for that. Putting human boots on the moon seems an awfully expensive thing to do when we can have almost real time telepresence with robots there. I could well imagine people in suits which communicate to a robot with a human-like appearance every move.

My somewhat regretful feeling is more emotional than rational. It is the passing of an era.

LC

Lights in the Dark July 6, 2011 at 2:31 AM

I 100% agree.

Oh, and I will also be at the launch (although not as close as Mike Deep!) for coverage! :)

Lights in the Dark July 6, 2011 at 2:31 AM

I 100% agree.

Oh, and I will also be at the launch (although not as close as Mike Deep!) for coverage! :)

Rob Hemmings July 5, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Yes, time to move on. However, let us not forget that without the shuttle we would have had to find ways to launch 5 Hubble Space Telecopes (as replacements) as no other craft, past or planned, was or will be capable of servicing that magnificent instrument as the shuttle has done those 5 times.
Colonies on the Moon are interesting and may lead to new discoveries, but the HST has done more for science than it was possible to even imagine before it was launched (and fixed..)

Anonymous July 6, 2011 at 3:01 AM

“We could have had colonies on the Moon by now, had it not been for that pointless albatross.”

And how would those colonists (never mind their hardware) have gotten to LEO to begin with? (and neither are we ‘finished’ with LEO)

The Shuttle didn’t live up to its original cost and schedule promises, that’s all too true. What RLV would you have done in its place?

You understand that you still need a regular and economical means of reaching LEO, ‘unexciting’ and ‘uninspiring’ as that may be (even Columbus needed a good harbor, and we don’t have the equivalent of that, yet), in order to execute these grand plans, right? Beyond a certain point, even the cheapest ELV won’t cut it…especially if we’re talking enough people for true colonization.

Anonymous July 9, 2011 at 3:06 AM

colonies on the moon? your crazy! do some research before you speak! impossible! radiation is to high on the moon for humans to ever set foot on! (unless we find a way to block the radiation) if we supposedly went to the moon back in the late 60′s early 70′s with the technology we had back then, why in the hell wouldn’t we have been back there? why wouldn’t we build a 100 million dollar settlement on the moon instead of a floating space station?? why wouldn’t we put the Hubble on the moon??? why ? sooooooo many questions! open your eyes and look at the whole picture instead of all you narrow minded people out there that only want to believe what people tell you! like the people that run NASA, people that run the government (ha like all those politicians that rely on US, the middle class people, living in poverty, to believe them. oh yeah, don’t they fund NASA?????), the news……….yeah the news, they only tell you what the government WANTS you to know! all I’m saying is OPEN YOUR EYES! DO YOUR RESEARCH, AND DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT THE HONEST PEOPLE THAT MAKE UP OUR GOVERNMENT TELL YOU!!!!!! this is America, God bless America. lets not let all these people running our country blind us with a shit load of lies!

bdlaacmm July 6, 2011 at 3:03 AM

Rob, we wouldn’t have ever needed the Hubble space Telescope if we had established lunar colonies. We could have put the scope on the Moon, where it would have had a nice fixed platform to operate from. (As well as mechanics on hand all the time to fix/upgrade things as needed. No need for expensive repair missions.)

swakker July 8, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: