Casting aside a week of ominous weather, space shuttle Atlantis successfully lifted off at 11:29 AM EST today from Kennedy Space Center. A brief pause in the countdown at :31 seconds to confirm retraction of the external fuel tank's Gaseous Oxygen Vent Arm, or "Beanie Cap," was the only hiccup in what so far appears to have been a flawless launch. It was probably the most awesome thing--as in, literally full of awe--that I've seen in my life.
Morning everybody. That's the view from the press viewing mound as of around 6:45 AM EST this morning. The weather is actually somewhat pleasant, with streaks of sun passing through the cloud cover. But the chance of favorable launch conditions is still a scant 30 percent. We're a little less than four hours from the planned launch as of this update--you can follow along here with the NASA TV broadcast, as well as updates from us here and on Twitter.
It's been a damp day here at Kennedy Space Center. As you may have seen on Twitter, we're here to witness the final launch of Atlantis--the last hurrah for the space shuttle.
The rain has been on and off all afternoon, but the drizzle did not stop us from heading out to the pad for a final farewell to Atlantis before launch, which as of this writing is still scheduled for 11:26 AM EST tomorrow.
After a 5-month stay at the International Space Station, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli snapped one-of-a-kind photos of the Space Shuttle docked at the ISS, on his way back to Earth in a Soyuz craft. This is the very first time photos have captured an American orbiter docked to the International Space Station.
See the gallery.
We've already bid our fond farewell to the space shuttle Endeavour, but as it blasted into the great blue yonder for the last time Monday, the astronauts were accompanied by a different sort of companion: the first cephalopod ever to enter space.
NASA's youngest space shuttle left Earth for the last time Monday, carrying a physics experiment and spare parts to the International Space Station. It was a bittersweet moment for shuttle followers who watched the shuttle's picture-perfect liftoff with the knowledge that there's only one of these left.
Commander Mark Kelly had some poignant words in the moments before ignition.
The last flight of space shuttle Endeavour won’t lift off until at least Sunday, and possibly the middle of next week, according to NASA. After managers scrubbed the launch Friday, technicians searched for the cause of a failed circuit in the shuttle’s hydraulic power system, and they found it in a switchbox in the shuttle’s aft compartment.
Managers have to take it out, replace it and test the new unit, and that will take several days.
Friday’s space shuttle launch will be much more than the final hurrah for the shuttle Endeavour. Riding in its cargo bay is a massive and controversial physics experiment that could help answer some of the most confounding mysteries in science. With the delivery of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, the space shuttle’s penultimate mission could turn out to be one of its greatest achievements.
After almost 13 years, the world's most complicated construction project, the International Space Station, is almost complete. Spacewalking astronauts attached the final U.S. pressurized module, the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo, thereby wrapping up the U.S. portion of station construction.