NASA's Final Space Shuttle Mission Begins With Atlantis' Launch
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Commander Chris Ferguson and his three crewmates are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 11:29 a.m. EDT Friday. STS-135 is the final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program.
"With today's final launch of the space shuttle, we turn the page on a remarkable period in America's history in space, while beginning the next chapter in our nation's extraordinary story of exploration," Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Tomorrow's destinations will inspire new generations of explorers, and the shuttle pioneers have made the next chapter of human spaceflight possible."
The STS-135 crew consists of Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. They will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with more than 8,000 pounds of supplies and spare parts to sustain space station operations after the shuttles are retired.
"The shuttle's always going to be a reflection to what a great nation can do when it dares to be bold and commits to follow through," Ferguson said shortly before liftoff. "We're not ending the journey today -- we're completing a chapter of a journey that will never end."
The mission includes flying the Robotic Refueling Mission, an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed for robotic refueling of satellites in space, even satellites not designed for servicing. The crew also will return with an ammonia pump that recently failed on the station. Engineers want to understand why the pump failed and improve designs for future spacecraft.
Atlantis is on a 12-day mission and scheduled to dock to the station at 11:06 a.m. on Sunday.
STS-135 is the 135th shuttle flight, the 33rd flight for Atlantis and the 37th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. NASA's Web coverage of STS-135 includes mission information, a press kit, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos.
Mission coverage, including the latest NASA Television schedule, is available on the main space shuttle website at: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the mission. NASA TV features live mission events, daily status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will host daily news conferences with STS-135 mission managers. To participate, reporters must have valid media credentials issued by a NASA center or issued specifically for the STS-135 mission.
Journalists not on site must contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of a briefing to participate. Newsroom personnel will verify credentials and transfer reporters to the phone bridge. Phone bridge capacity is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Live updates to the NASA News Twitter feed will be added throughout the mission and landing. To access the feed, go to the NASA.gov
home page or visit: http://www.twitter.com/nasa
All four of Atlantis' crew members are posting updates to Twitter. You can follow them at: http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Ferg http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Doug http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Sandy http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Rex
To connect with NASA on Twitter and other social networking sites, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect
For more information about space shuttle Atlantis' STS-135 mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
For more information about the space station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
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