Space shuttle Atlantis launches successfully on last scheduled flight (VIDEO)
On its last mission the space shuttle Atlantis will bring 3,000 pounds of US supplies to the International Space Station, as well as a Russian module.
Atlantis launched successfully, and beautifully, on its final scheduled voyage to space Friday at 2:20 pm EDT (1820 GMT). The shuttle and its six astronauts will deliver 3,000 pounds of U.S. supplies, including food and laptop computers to the International Space Station. and — for the first (at last) time — bring a Russian module to the station. The 12-day mission will include 3 spacewalks for that will focus on storing spare components outside the station, including six batteries, a communications antenna and parts for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm.Skip to next paragraph
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But will it be the final flight of Atlantis? "We like to call this the first last flight of Atlantis," said commander Ken Ham in a preflight news conference. Since Atlantis will be ready to go as a rescue ship for the currently schedule final flight of the shuttle program (for the post-Columbia Launch On Need mission), many have said it should be flown.
The shuttle crew is scheduled to dock to the station at 10:27 a.m. EDT on Sunday, May 16. The crew includes Ham, Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Steve Bowen, and Piers Sellers.
A 12-day mission is one of the shorter durations for a mission to the ISS. But compare it to a 6-month stay on the space station? "It is like a sprint," said former astronaut LeRoy Chaio on Spaceflightnow.com's live coverage of the launch. "It is a whole different experience being up there for six months where you have the chance to do and experience more things. On a short shuttle mission what you don't have is the time to sit back and take in the scenery " Chaio said he took over 16,000 photos during his expedition to the ISS from October 9, 2004–April 24, 2005.