Lift off! Space Shuttle Atlantis successfully launches into space

Amid worries that the weather down in Florida would delay the final Space Shuttle launch until Saturday, the Atlantis soared into the sky, rockets blazing, on mission STS-135 to ferry supplies to the International Space Station.

At exactly 11:29 a.m. EST, the Atlantis lifted off its launchpad at 2,600 miles per hour, even after a freeze put on the countdown clock at about 31 seconds until launch.

How was the turnout? Well, NASA estimates about 750,000 to 1 million folks (including our commander Kevin Hall) were watching the launch in Florida with their naked eyes.

That was it folks, the last Space Shuttle launch, ever. Loaded with a four-person crew (the smallest since the early 1980s), Mission STS-135 is expected to last 12 days, with the main bulk of the mission's goal to ferry a whole year's worth of supplies to crew on the ISS.

Atlantis is scheduled for a return on July 20 (if all goes well). Should a freak accident happen, there is no backup Space Shuttle on standby. Instead, the crew will be stranded on the ISS until a Russian Soyuz rocket can prepare itself for the rescue mission — a task that could take up to one year to get ready.

Keep it locked on DVICE as we bring you more coverage on the Space Shuttle over the next few days.


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