April 12, 1981, the Space Shuttle Program lifts off. It will wind down this year. NASA

Choking back a tear, NASA has announced the dates of the final missions to be made by the Space Shuttle. Discovery will lift off on November 1, for a 10-day mission carrying parts to the International Space Station. After that, February 26, 2011, will mark the last shuttle flight, as Endeavour takes the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer up to the ISS on a 13-day mission.

The possibility is left open that Atlantis may fly one more backup mission after that if necessary, but NASA has not made a decision yet.

The shuttle program has been in service for close to 30 years. After the final mission, U.S. astronauts will fly on Russian Soyuz craft instead.

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