The last Space Shuttle launch is set to take place on July 8th with the crew and shuttle of the Atlantis, more than 31 years after the old bird's construction began.
NASA announced the final launch date on Friday, and stated that Atlantis will begin its six hour move to the launchpad at 8pm EDT on May 31. This mission, STS-135, carry the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module, a large (and probably expensive) pressurised transportation container that will deliver supplies, logistics and other parts to the ISS to keep it stocked up. The US will no longer be flying there without the assistance of the Russians or private companies, at least for some time to come.
STS-135 will also fly the Robotic Refuelling Mission, which will test the practicality of robotically refueling satellites in orbit. Included in the mission are several tools and electronics, pumps and controllers.
The mission will last 12 days and Atlantis is expected to land on July 20, thus marking the end of the Space Shuttle program after more than 39 years of operation ever since it started under the Nixon Administraion. But this isn't the end of Space Exploration, far from it!
NASA is also launching a Tweetup for the final space shuttle launch which is scheduled July 7-8 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. To sign up visit NASA Tweetup. To stay up to date on the Atlantis launch date check out NASA's Launch Schedule.
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