Atlantis Launches on Final Space Shuttle Mission

by Nancy Atkinson on July 8, 2011

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

Space shuttle Atlantis has launched for the final time, for the last mission of the space shuttle program. The crew of four is heading to the International Space Station. Launch occurred at 10:29 EDT (15:29 UTC), and despite an unfavorable weather forecast, Atlantis and her crew beat the 30% odds that was predicted for the probability of launch. There was a slight delay and a hold in the countdown (about 2 minutes) when a problem with the vent arm retraction on the launchpad (the “beanie cap” over the external tank) was detected. The launch control team was able to look at the issue, and determined it was safe to proceed with launch.

Our team of writers and photographers will provide more details and images, soon, (we’ve heard the communications at KSC are completely bogged down).

As for the future, NASA’s Chief Technologist Bobby Braun may have said it best via Twitter: “This is not the end of human spaceflight. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

And the STS-135 mission is just beginning as well. We’ll provide full coverage of the final space shuttle mission for the next two weeks.

Space shuttle Atlantis launches into history from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. credit: NASA/Fletcher Hildreth

About 

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

Martin Lefebvre July 8, 2011 at 4:58 PM

As it lauched, I could think of no other fitting music than Countdown by the Canadian rock legends Rush

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnD2VUo16PQ

Bil Irving July 8, 2011 at 8:13 PM

I was thinking more “The Final Countdown” by Swedish pop-rock non-legends Europe.

Bappaditya Debnath July 8, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Everything comes at a price. There is no free lunch. For sure that the space shuttle mission has paid a huge price but the wealth of knowledge that it has brought to man kind is unprecedented. Mankind without knowledge is even worse than any other creation that exists. Salutes to those who contributed to the space shuttle mission. May god bless the soul of lives lost for such a high and noble cause.

Anonymous July 8, 2011 at 6:06 PM

NASA’s huge investment in the Shuttle programme is a mapping exercise of such huge magnitude that generations ahead will one day thank NASA for their investment. Space aviation and evolution of space exploration has just begun even though NASA’s first Shuttle mission started in 1981. Despite programme errors and tragedies, NASA are world class and USA should be congratulated for funding a magnificent Shuttle programme. Space has a future, space exploration has a future, and NASA with aviation technology like that of the Shuttle and with evolution of new materials and technology has a huge future.

I believe the excellent President Obama will continue to support incredible space programmes once the more immediate problems of the economy are resolved.

Thank you NASA and the USA.

Best Wishes,

DINESH R MAKWANA (DREAMWORDS AND INORBITS)

Anonymous July 8, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Finally… Now let’s move forward! :)

Anonymous July 8, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Damn.

I believed the meteorologists and thought that they would NEVER launch with only a 30% chance.
Doing different things today I didn’t think of the shuttle.

Off they went, I didn’t watch.

Damn.

Have a good mission, Atlantis!

Lights in the Dark July 8, 2011 at 9:26 PM

There were many who believed it wouldn’t launch today, due to weather issues. But there were also many who DID believe, and they were treated to a wonderful launch. (I know, I was there!)

Anonymous July 9, 2011 at 8:11 AM

I would have watched only via the internet live-stream of NASA TV. Still, I would have liked to watch it.

Still, people like you had the pleasure and a lot of fun – that’s a relief. ;)

Amar Mainkar July 9, 2011 at 3:21 AM

That is one iconic image!

Tim Griffith July 9, 2011 at 6:42 PM

The picture of the rising shuttle next to the flagpole and its intended ‘Look at what we are capable of’ is very nice indeed. All that is missing is a congressional elephant trying to shoot it out of the sky (with a bow and arrow).

Anonymous July 9, 2011 at 8:01 PM

So it goes.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: