CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WGGB) — To NASA, it’s known as STS-135, but it’s more than that. To the rest of the country, the launch of the shuttle Atlantis Friday marks the end of the 30-year shuttle program, and it’s crew is very aware of their place in space flight history.
The shuttle Atlantis was first launched into space on October 3rd 1985. The crew of five carried a Department of Defense payload into space.
It’s last mission, scheduled for July 8th and lasting 12 days, will take it to the International Space Station. It will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with supplies and spare parts to sustain station operations once the shuttles are retired.
The crew consists of Mission Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.
Commander Ferguson says the mission will be bitter sweet. “I think we can look back at the sweet part of all this and say we were blessed to be a part of this, all of us and not just the chosen few who are lucky to fly it. The country, we can say, my gosh to my grandkids. I remember when we flew the space shuttle and I remember the proud moment I felt in my chest when I saw the space shuttle launch and I long for those days again,” he says.
Atlantis leaves quite the legacy. It was the first to dock to the Russian space station MIR in 1995. It delivered the Destiny laboratory to the space station in February of 2001 and it was served the final servicing mission to the Hubble space telescope in May of 2009.
On it’s final mission, Atlantis will carry two Apple iPhone 4′s. The astronauts won’t be using the iPhones for making calls or text messaging. Instead, the phones will be outfitted with a spacecraft-friendly app called ‘Spacelab’ that will perform a series experiments to measure radiation levels, orbital position and altitude.
The iPhones gyroscope and accelerometer will be instrumental in performing the experiments related to the spacecrafts position.
In case you’re wondering, Atlantis is named after the two-masted, primary research ship for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on the Cape, from 1930 to 1966.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ATLANTIS’ FLIGHT CREW, VISIT OUR SPECIAL WEBSITE DEVOTED TO THE FINAL SHUTTLE MISSION.
abc40 and FOX 6 will be there for the final shuttle launch. We’re the only station in western Massachusetts to have complete coverage leading up the event and live reports the day Friday.