Photos: Space Shuttle Leaves Space Station for Last Time

Atlantis Docked to the International Space Station with Robotic Arm Deployed

Atlantis and the Earth

Atlantis After Undocking by Astronaut Ron Garan

This never-before-seen view of the International Space Station shows the orbiting lab as it appeared to astronauts on the shuttle Atlantis after the two spacecraft undocked for the final time on July 19, 2011 during NASA's final shuttle mission. The station rotated 90 degrees after undocking in an unprecedented manuever to provide better views to the shuttle crew.

Shuttle Atlantis Undocks from Space Station for Last Time

Atlantis After Undocking with ISS Solar Arrays in Foreground

The International Space Station as Seen Through an Atlantis Porthole

The International Space Station as Seen from Shuttle Atlantis After Undocking

The International Space Station turns slowly to provide a side-view to the shuttle Atlantis after the two spaceships undocked on July 19, 2011 during NASA's final shuttle mission

Rare Space Station Side-View

Seeing Half of Shuttle Atlantis

Atlantis as Seen Through the International Space Station's Cupola

 

This image of the International Space Station was taken by Atlantis' STS-135 crew during a fly around as the shuttle departed the station on Tuesday, July 19, 2011. STS-135 is the final shuttle mission to the orbital laboratory

www.space.com – www.nasa.gov

Space stuff of the future put to the test

This may look like a NASA version of the game Connect Four, but in fact it’s a scientific experiment.

Photographed during a spacewalk as part of the current Atlantis shuttle mission, the Materials on International Space Station Experiment 8 (MISSE-8) consists of a series of circular test beds containing solar cells, computing devices and new and experimental materials, some of which, NASA hopes, may have applications on future spacecraft. The panel is attached to the outside of the space station, exposing the objects to the rigours of space, which include radiation, micrometeorites and extreme temperatures.

MISSE-8 is expected to return to Earth in early 2013.

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2011/07/space-stuff-of-the-future-put.html

An Amazing View

This panoramic view was photographed from the International Space Station toward Earth, looking past space shuttle Atlantis’ docked cargo bay and part of the station, including a solar array panel.

The photo was taken as the joint complex passed over the southern hemisphere. Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights can be seen on Earth’s horizon and a number of stars also are visible.

http://www.nasa.gov

Final countdown: The space shuttle’s last ever mission

Thirty years after the first blast-off, David Usborne reports from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, on the end of an era

The first lift-off of Atlantis in 1985

Dotted across the sprawling campus that is the John F. Kennedy Space Centre in Florida are blue and white signs designed to get the thousands of workers here pepped up. “1 Days to Launch”, they declared yesterday above an image of the NASA shuttle. But they might have read “1 Days to Pack up your Bags”.

It is 30 years since the first shuttle, Columbia, lifted off from its pad here at Cape Canaveral and opened a new chapter in an American space romance that began a decade earlier with the Apollo flights. The mission about to be undertaken by the shuttle will be number 135 and the last. For the first time in half a century, the US will have no means on its own to fire humans to the stars.

The shuttle swansong will begin, of course, only when Florida’s thundery weather allows. The launch is scheduled for this morning, US time. But as hundreds of thousands of onlookers swarmed to Florida’s Space Coast last night, rain fell in chain-mail curtains and the forecast was ominous. Bad conditions, officials said, presented a 70 per cent chance of delaying today’s lift-off until Saturday or Sunday.
Whenever it begins, the last flight of Atlantis will trigger bittersweet emotions here. Even for those tourists cramming the parks and shores to watch the white bird soar on its thick thread of smoke it will, as one NASA spokesman put it, be a “bucket-list” moment, never to be experienced again.

The original Atlantis crew

Already as the digital countdown directed from Mission Control in Houston ticked down, a sense of nostalgia was filling the press centre. Even reporters who have been covering launches for years weren’t shy to have their pictures taken beside a vintage space suit brought into the filing centre for the occasion…… Continue reading Final countdown: The space shuttle’s last ever mission