"On July 5, STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson and pilot Doug Hurley perform touch-and-go landings aboard a Shuttle Training Aircraft at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The craft is a Gulfstream II jet that was modified to mimic the shuttle's handling during the final phase of landing. These practice landings are a part of standard training procedures. Atlantis and its crew are scheduled to lift off at 11:26 a.m. EDT on July 8 to deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module packed with supplies and spare parts to the station. STS-135 will be the 33rd flight of Atlantis, the 37th shuttle mission to the space station, and the 135th and final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program."Source: NASA
For more than 30 years, America's space shuttles have rocketed into orbit. Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour blasted off 134 times from the Kennedy Space Center. They were mankind's first reusable space launch vehicles, and the first to glide back to Earth on wings. As the space shuttle program ends with the final flight of Atlantis, CNN looks back at key moments that have defined this pioneering space program.See all 10 memorable moments at This Just In
It may be the first prayer ever uttered by a space traveler: "Dear Lord, please don't let me f- up."
Dubbed "Shepard's Prayer," this brief, irreverent plea is often attributed to the first American in space – the late Alan Shepard – although he reportedly said he was misquoted.
Candy Torres drove nonstop for 21 hours to see the launch of space shuttle Challenger in June 1983. She had seen shuttle launches before, but this trip from Princeton, New Jersey, to Cape Canaveral, Florida, was different: Sally Ride was about to become the first female U.S. astronaut to leave the Earth's atmosphere.
Torres was proud to watch the first female astronaut take flight. She was even more proud at the thought of Ride's achievement inspiring more women to work in the space program. In a field that was almost entirely dominated by men, Torres had been working as a satellite engineer for seven years.
Torres shared photos of the launch with CNN iReport as NASA prepared for the final flight in its shuttle program. She recalled the moment of joy these pictures capture: Standing in front of the towering mass of the shuttle Challenger, she smiles as she shoulders the camera she used to record the event.
Atlantis' journey to the International Space Station will be NASA's 135th and final mission in the space shuttle program, which began 30 years ago. Tune in to CNN's live coverage of the launch Friday, starting at 10 a.m. ET on CNN, CNN.com/Live and the CNN mobile apps. Then check out "CNN Presents: Beyond Atlantis" Friday at 10 p.m. ET.
Houston (CNN) - Christopher Ferguson may have a lot to say when he gets back to Earth, but for now, any poetry he may have, or words of wisdom for the history books, will have to wait for when he and his crew bring the last space shuttle, Atlantis, home.
"I'm working on it, but I'd rather leave it up to a surprise," the flight commander said with a smile.
Atlantis is poised to cap the last mission of the 30-year-old shuttle program. Onboard will be a four-person, veteran crew of astronauts, headed to the International Space Station with a load of supplies.FULL STORY on CNN.com
Whether you plan to camp out in Titusville, or belly up to a video feed for the final space shuttle launch, you’ll need the right tune; a soundtrack for real-life history, if you will. (Remember, there is no sound in space!) Problem is, musicians have launched a lot of chart climbers since Sputnik, so you might need a little help preparing your mix.
So as Mission Control said to Neil Armstrong, “Have no fear!” Well, perhaps they didn’t say that, but they certainly could have. Here is a breakdown of ten great launch songs.