Thursday, June 23, 2011
Atlantis is set to liftoff on the final flight of the shuttle program, STS-135, a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. Atlantis, the Space Shuttle Orbiter, will carry a crew of four: Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.
Space shuttle Atlantis' 12-day mission to the International Space Station will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with supplies and spare parts to sustain station operations once the shuttles are retired. The mission also will fly the Robotic Refueling Mission(RRM), an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically refuel satellites in space, even satellites not designed to be serviced. The crew also will return an ammonia pump that recently failed on the station. Engineers want to understand why the pump failed and improve designs for future spacecraft.
This is the final flight for shuttle Atlantis and the Space Shuttle Program. NASA’s workhorses for the past 30 years have completed their mission to build and supply the orbiting outpost, and the agency is now looking to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.
The STS-135 patch represents the space shuttle Atlantis embarking on its mission to resupply the International Space Station. Atlantis is centered over elements of the NASA emblem depicting how the space shuttle has been at the heart of NASA for the last 30 years. It also pays tribute to the entire NASA and contractor team that made possible all the incredible accomplishments of the space shuttle. Omega, the last letter in the Greek alphabet, recognizes this mission as the last flight of the Space Shuttle Program.
Atlantis, the fourth orbiter built, flew its maiden voyage on Oct. 3, 1985, on the STS-51-J mission. Later missions included the first docking to the Russian Mir space station on STS-71 in June 1995; delivery of the Destiny Laboratory to the space station on STS- 98 in February 2001; the first launch with a camera mounted to the external tank, which captured the shuttle's ascent to orbit on STS-112 in October 2002; and the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on STS-125 in May 2009. Atlantis is named after the two-masted, primary research ship for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966.
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