NASA sets farewell space shuttle launch for July 8

NASA senior officials voted unanimously to set space shuttle Atlantis’ launch date as July 8 after a day-long flight readiness review at the Kennedy space center in Florida on Tuesday.

Atlantis’ 12-day mission to the International Space Station is the final flight of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program.

“Atlantis is in great shape out at the pad,” said Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director. “Team Atlantis is feeling good about the flow and the launch countdown and hope we’ll be able to get her off the ground on Friday [July] the 8th as scheduled.”

Atlantis will carry the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module containing a year’s worth of supplies and spare parts for the orbital station and its crew.

Once the shuttle fleet is retired, Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft will take the bulk of crew rotation and cargo missions to the ISS until at least the middle of the decade. NASA is paying its Russian counterpart Roscosmos more than $1 billion for crew transport services over the next four years.

The retired four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at various scientific institutions across the United States. Atlantis will be on display at the Kennedy space center.

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