Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-132, from the beach at Cape Canaveral, FL

It was picture perfect!  Space Shuttle Atlantis leaped from her launch pad on a bright sunny day here in Central Florida.  I grabbed my camera and headed for the beach, as you can see here.  The Space Coast is teeming with visitors from around the country who have come to watch the final mision for Atlantis. Two shuttle missions remain in the program which began in 1981. Congratulations to the NASA team and its affiliated contractors.

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From NASA’s website:

Space shuttle Atlantis is embarking on its final planned mission. During the 12-day flight, Atlantis and six astronauts will fly to the International Space Station, leaving behind a Russian Mini Research Module, a set of batteries for the station’s truss and dish antenna, along with other replacement parts.

NASA astronaut Ken Ham will command an all-veteran flight crew: Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Michael Good, Garrett Reisman, Piers Sellers and Steve Bowen.

After the final STS-132 Flight Readiness Review, John Shannon, Space Shuttle Program manager, pointed out that Atlantis’ last planned mission will be an exciting one.

“Twelve days, three [spacewalks], tons of robotics… We’re putting on spares that make us feel good about the long-term sustainability of the ISS, replacing batteries that have been up there for a while, and docking a Russian-built ISS module,” Shannon said. “This flight has a little bit of everything, and it’s been a great preparation for the team.”

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