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STS-135 Completes Shuttle's Last Mission
Launch Director Mike Leinbach
On behalf of the greatest team in the world, good luck to you and your crew on this final flight of this true American icon. So for the final time, Fergie, Doug, Sandy and Rex, good luck and have a little fun up there.
Commander Chris Ferguson
Let's light this fire one more time, Mike, and witness the nation at its best. The crew of Atlantis is ready for launch.
The last mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Era, STS-135, began on July 8, 2011, with a roaring launch by shuttle Atlantis through a low layer of clouds above NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Commander Chris Ferguson led a team of four astronauts to the International Space Station. Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim would all have special roles during the flight.
Their mission was a resupply flight aimed at bringing more than four tons of supplies and equipment to the station that will sustain operations aboard the orbiting laboratory through 2012.
Once docked to the station, the shuttle and astronauts used the robotic arm on the station to lift the Rafaello module, stuffed with supplies, out of Atlantis and connect it to one of the ports on the station.
Then the crews got to work moving the gear out of Rafaello and moving used equipment form the station into the module for return to Earth.
For Magnus, the flight was a return to a place she called home for several months during the International Space Station’s Expedition 18.
For all you guys who worked the Expedition 18, I'd like to announce the return of the socks!
The Atlantis astronauts worked with the space station's team on a spacewalk to place a faulty ammonia pump inside the shuttle so it could be studied on Earth.
Guiding station spacewalkers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan from inside the station, Walheim steered the space station's robotic arm.
The spacewalk also called on Fossum and Garan to place some thermal covers to protect a critical area from the temperature changes seen in space.
They also set up an experiment that will test robotic refueling of satellites in space.
MISSION COMMENTATOR ROB NAVIUS:
The spectacle of yesterday's 6-hour, 31-minute spacewalk by Mike Fossum and Ron Garan has morphed into what essentially is a blue collar day for the 10 crewmembers on board as we move into the heart of the mission and what this flight is really all about and that is namely the transfer of almost a year's worth of supplies from Atlantis' cargo module.
The picture, guys, you look like you are in a studio in Nebraska somewhere, the shot is so clear. Is this a hoax, are you really in space?
See the hair?
I don't know, we'll have to do something for you . . .
As the mission progressed, the astronauts took time on several occasions to mark the achievements of the past and with one, left a challenge for the spacecraft of the future.
This flag represents not just a symbol of our national pride and honor, but in this particular case it represents a goal. This flag also will be flown prominently here by the forward hatch of node two to be returned to Earth once again by an astronaut that launches on U.S. vehicle, hopefully in just a few years.
The shuttle left the station after about nine days of docked operations there and after both crews completed their assigned tasks.
Atlantis leaves the International Space Station for the last time. Thank you for your 12 docked missions to the ISS and for capping off 37 space shuttle missions to construct this orbital research facility.
As the ISS now enters an era of utilization, we'll never forget the role the space shuttle played in its creation.
Flying on its own through space for one more night, the astronauts shared some of their thoughts on the landmark mission.
It's kind of interesting to be here on the final night of a shuttle mission. We don't quite know what to think, we're all kind of taking it all in.
Atlantis descended back to Earth on July 21, 2011, touching down on the shuttle runway at Kennedy, just a few minutes from where it launched on the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program.
A ship like no other, its place in history secured, the space shuttle pulls into port for the last time, its voyage at an end.
After serving the world for over 30 years, the space shuttle earned its place in history and has come to a final stop.
Although we go to take the ride, we sure hope that everybody who has ever worked or touched or looked at or envied or admired a space shuttle was able to take just a little part of the journey with us.
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