Remarks: Atlantis" blasts off on her 32nd mission (since she will be the stand by rescue ship for the last official mission, an act of the President and/or Congress allowed NASA let her fly her for one last time in 2011 as STS-135). Here the water clouds and the SRB exhaust smoke have rapidly consumed the LC-39A complex and spread about .5 miles end to end in seconds. White clouds are water vapor, the brown stuff will kill you if the sound does not. At 3 miles the vibrations & noise are still very loud.
Remarks: The last space shuttle movement ever in progress at dawn. Atlantis on her 10 mile trek from the VAB to the KSC visitor center for her final display. It was rather odd to see the move handled by a local construction company as opposed to the regular NASA/USA orbiter crew. A sad day for me and the end of a 11 year career chasing shuttles.
Remarks: The end of my space shuttle chasing career! On the night of Nov.2nd, the Space Shuttle "Atlantis" sits outside her final resting place @ KSC while a fireworks show "celebrates" her retirement. This would be the final movement of a real space shuttle. After the show, she was pulled into her new building and the sealing of the wall behind her began. And then it was all over! The End.
Remarks: "Two, one, zero and liftoff! The final liftoff of Atlantis -- on the shoulders of the space shuttle, America will continue the dream." She clears the tower for the very last time and is handed over from KSC Launch Control to JSC Mission Control at this very moment. A very poignant and momentous occasion as the era of the Space Transport System comes to an end at 30 days from wheels stop of Atlantis.
Remarks: Employees and the crew of STS-135 hold up a "We're Behind You, Atlantis!" banner to commemorate space shuttle Atlantis' STS-135 mission and final flight for the Space Program. The banner has thousands of signatures and will accompany the orbiter all the way to the pad. Post launch,it will be preserved in the VAB and eventually join Atlantis in retirement at Kennedy Space Center. "Atlantis" is being rolled over from its processing hanger to the VAB so that it can be mated with the external tank and solid rocket boosters for STS-135- the final mission.
Remarks: Space shuttle "Atlantis" sits on Pad 39A shortly after arrival for the very last time. Technicians work fast to hook the hydrogen vent lines and close the External tank doors before an approaching powerful thunderstorm. The work was completed shortly before lightning hit with 0.5 miles from the pad. Also seen in the picture is the orbiter access arm that is used by the astronauts and support crew. The stack is located on top of the mobile launch platform and holes for the solid rocket booster exhausts to shoot through are clearly seen. This sight will soon be one for the history books after 30 years of shuttle ops.
Remarks: Space Shuttle Atlantis is seen shortly after completing her roll program. This was to be the final launch of Altantis, but one final mission has been added for the middle of 2011, the final launch of the space shuttle program.
Remarks: "Atlantis" over the runway and flaring for main wheel touchdown at KSC - home of the Space Shuttle orbiters. At wheel stop, it is the end of STS-132. STS-132 was 4,879,978 miles (yes..almost 5 MILLION miles),186 orbits and 11 days 18 hours 29 minutes 9 seconds. Soon to be mothballed for being "obsolescent". She has only completed 32 flights out of the 100 she is rated for. Dear Congress, Keep her flying!
Remarks: "Atlantis" departs Earth on mission STS-129 at 2:28 p.m from Launch Complex 39A at NASA-KSC with a collection of spare parts to the International Space Station. The trajectory shaping for the orbital insertion to catch up with the ISS (@17,180 mph or Mach 23) can be seen in the toxic smoke trail. The "stack" climbs in a progressively flattening arc, accelerating as the weight of the SRBs and main tank decrease. To achieve low orbit requires much more horizontal than vertical acceleration.