The Last Shuttle Mission Ever Has Ended Successfully

STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis landed perfectly at 5:56a ET (9:56 GMT, 2:56a Pacific) today, Thursday, at the Kennedy Space Center.

Congratulations to all on a successful conclusion of the 30 year Space Shuttle Program.

Current Status Updates

Wednesday Night, 20-Jul-2011

Weather is looking good for the planned landing time of 5:56a ET (9:56 GMT, 2:56a Pacific) Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center. De-orbit scheduled for 4:49a ET with re-entry at 5:25am ET.

Friday, 8-Jul-2011, Noon Eastern

A beautiful lauch at 11:29:04 Eastern, after one slight issue that delayed the countdown a couple minutes. The weather co-operated, much to our surprise.

There was a delay at the 31 second mark in the countdown. This is when the computer control is handed off to the onboard systems and there was a slight glitch related the the retraction of the beanie (that thing on top of the gantry arm that exhausts the excess gas boiling off from the fuel). More details when we have them.

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Friday, 8-Jul-2011, 10:45am Eastern

Weather is go. All systems are go for an on-time launch.

Friday, 8-Jul-2011, 9:20am Eastern

The astronauts are being assisted into their locations in the shuttle by the closeout crew. They're doing the final preparations to close the hatch. The weather is go, and the countdown is on schedule for launch in about 2 hours.

Friday, 8-Jul-2011, 6:40am Eastern

The sun is rising at Kennedy Space Center, for the last ever space shuttle.

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Friday, 8-Jul-2011, 5:10am Eastern

Fueling of Atlantis' tank was completed slightly ahead of schedule at 4:58am ET. The Final Inspection Team will head to the pad next. A decision for Go/No-Go on launch due to weather will be made around 7:30am eastern today.

Friday, 8-Jul-2011, 2:12am Eastern

NASA managers have given a go for tanking. 535,000 pounds of liquid oxygen are being loaded into Atlantis. Weather still may force a scrub at the last minute: still 30% chance of good launch weather during the window. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 7-Jul-2011, 7:05pm Eastern

NASA has determined that the lighting strikes (photo below) near the launch pad did no damage to the shuttle or gantry. The water tower was hit in one strike, and the other strike hit the beach near the pad.

Thursday, 7-Jul-2011, 4:14pm Eastern

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The RSS (rolling support structure of the gantry) has moved away. There was a break in the weather and the lightning advisories were lifted. Unfortunately, the break at the Launch Site meant the weather front was coming through the press center.

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It was a harrowing experience of waiting for security dogs to check out our camera and audio gear (which was sitting out in the rain) while stood there getting soaked for 10+ minutes before we could board the busses to the launch pad.

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Of course, the wait, the wetness, the annoyance of dealing with the bomb-sniffing dogs and a bus full of wet space journalists was indeed worth it. We were rewarded with a close-up view of Atlantis on the launch pad, and no rain at the pad.

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Because of the nearby lightning strikes (within half a mile), the NASA Engineering Review Board is meeting to discuss status of Atlantis & the launch pad.

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Lightning Strike Photo courtesy of NASA

Thursday, 7-Jul-2011, 1:24pm Eastern

We just had a really large rain storm here at KSC, and the lightning advisory we were under for the last 2 hours has been lifted at the launch pad. Lightning advisory is still in effect in other areas of KSC.

When there is a lightning advisory, everyone must be removed from the RSS (gantry) and the launch pad area and go inside. Pre-launch work cannot continue when a lightning advisory is in effect.

In Phase I, an Advisory is issued that lightning is forecast within five miles of the designated site within 30 minutes of the effective time of the Advisory. The 30-minute warning gives personnel in unprotected areas time to get to protective shelter and gives personnel working on lightning sensitive tasks time to secure operations in a safe and orderly manner. A Phase II Warning will be issued when lightning is imminent or occurring within five miles of the designated site. All lightning-sensitive operations are terminated until the Phase II Warning is lifted. This two-phase policy provides adequate lead time for sensitive operations without shutting down less sensitive operations until the hazard becomes immediate.

Mission Background

NASA's crew for STS-135 is: Chris Ferguson, commander; Doug Hurley, pilot; Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus, both mission specialists. The crew is set to arrive at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility at approximately 2:45 p.m. on Monday, July 4th, and enter crew quarantine.

Atlantis will carry the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station. The mission also will fly a system to investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing spacecraft and return a failed ammonia pump module to help NASA better understand the failure mechanism and improve pump designs for future systems.

Launching Friday, July 8th at 11:26 a.m. Eastern

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Live coverage of the launch and entire mission here on Mission Control