NASA Podcasts

The Legacy of Atlantis
05.13.10
 
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George Diller/NASA Public Affairs Officer: Atlantis is the fourth orbiter in NASA’s space shuttle fleet to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Also designated Orbiter Vehicle-104, or OV-104, Atlantis is named after the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966.

Atlantis arrived at Kennedy on April 13, 1985, from Palmdale, Calif., and spent seven months in an orbiter processing facility while NASA and contractor workers prepared the vehicle for its maiden voyage.

NASA Launch Commentator: Ignition and liftoff. Liftoff of Atlantis, a new orbiter joins the shuttle fleet and it has cleared the tower.

Space shuttle Atlantis launched on its first spaceflight, STS-51J, on Oct. 3, 1985, and carried a classified payload for the U.S. Department of Defense.

During the last 25 years, Atlantis has served as the on-orbit launch site for many noteworthy spacecraft, including the planetary probes Magellan and Galileo.

Starting with STS-71, Atlantis pioneered the Shuttle-Mir missions, flying the first seven missions to dock with the Russian space station.

During the fourth docking mission, STS-79, in September 1996, Atlantis ferried astronaut Shannon Lucid back to Earth after her record-setting 188 days in orbit aboard Mir.

In recent years, Atlantis delivered several vital components to the International Space Station, including the U.S. laboratory module Destiny, as well as the Quest Joint Airlock and multiple sections of the integrated truss structure that make up the station’s backbone.

The STS-125 mission aboard Atlantis in May 2009 was the fifth and final Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission.

Throughout the years, Atlantis has undergone two overhauls knows as Orbiter Maintenance Down Periods.

Some of the most significant upgrades and new features include installation of the drag chute, improved nosewheel steering, installation of the space station airlock and orbiter docking system, and the multifunction electronic display system, or “glass cockpit.”

With the launch of Atlantis on STS-132, the vehicle will have flown 32 missions, carried more than 200 astronauts to and from space, and traveled hundreds of millions of miles.

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