Atlantis blasts off in last shuttle launch
19:36 08/07/2011 MOSCOW, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - The last ever shuttle launch was performed on Friday as Atlantis lifted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
Atlantis' 12-day mission to the International Space Station is the final flight of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program.
Atlantis will carry the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module containing a year's worth of supplies and spare parts for the orbital station and its crew.
Once the shuttle fleet is retired, Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft will take the bulk of crew rotation and cargo missions to the ISS until at least the middle of the decade. NASA is paying its Russian counterpart Roscosmos more than $1 billion for crew transport services over the next four years.
The retired four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at various scientific institutions across the United States. Atlantis will be on display at the Kennedy space center.
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