Atlantis the Last Space Shuttle launched ever by NASA
By Rima Bek
Cape Canaveral, Florida (Hollywood Today) 07/08/11—Today, the space shuttle Atlantis was the last of 135 shuttles launched into space for NASA’s 30-year shuttle space program. The Space Coast Office of Tourism estimates that approximately 1 million people attended and viewed the historic launch from the Kennedy Space Center as it left Earth one last time.
“With today’s final launch of the space shuttle we turn the page on a remarkable period in America’s history in space, while beginning the next chapter in our nation’s extraordinary story of exploration,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden after the shuttle reached orbit.
“Tomorrow’s destinations will inspire new generations of explorers, and the shuttle pioneers have made the next chapter of human spaceflight possible,” Bolden said.
While people stood with pride (and even some with tears), there was a nail-biting, heart-pounding moment within the last 5 minutes before the launch.
Controllers had a few minutes to launch the shuttle while its destination, the International Space Station was orbiting. Clouds that had been covering the area part all morning and there was concern they would have the delay the two-day light. However, the clouds parted just in time.
The purpose of this launch is to bring a year’s amount of food, clothing and other supplies for the six crew members aboard the space station.
Atlantis is scheduled to reach the space station on Sunday at midday and will return on the morning of July 20. It will then be preserved as a museum piece in a new building that will be erected at the Kennedy visitors’ center. There has been major progress—especially within the last 30 years. Old frontiers have been broken and new discoveries have been made.
And while it is most always a bittersweet moment to end a chapter in history, all we can do is keep hoping and keeping aiming for the stars. It is essential to remember and celebrate the past…for it influences the decisions we make and affects our future. That’s progress.