Atlantis launched
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Atlantis launched

Young Scientist, July 8, 2011
: Atlantis, the last space shuttle to retire, was launched at 11:29 AM EDT. There was a slight delay at T-31 seconds while retraction of the Gaseous Oxygen Vent Arm, or “Beanie Cap,” was verified. This flight, termed STS-135, is the final mission of the space shuttle era, lasting 12 days in space. It carries the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module containing supplies and spare parts for the space station.

The launch of Atlantis. Image credit: NASA.

In a statement released by the White House, the President Barak Obama congratulated the Atlantis crew and the people of America’s space shuttle program on the “picture-perfect” launch. The President also, thanked the thousands of dedicated workers behind America’s Space Shuttle Program and NASA’s workforce. “You helped our country lead the space age, and you continue to inspire us each day”, he said. Though today’s launch marks the end of the space shuttle program, “it propels us into the next era of our never-ending adventure to push the very frontiers of exploration and discovery in space”, he added. The President expressed his confidence and faith in the men and women of NASA in accomplishing the mission of sending Americans to Mars.

The Atlantis crew consists of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. This is the 33rd mission of Atlantis, which is scheduled to dock to the International Space Station at 11:06 AM on Sunday, July 10.