KENNEDY SPACE CENTER-The 135th and final mission of the space shuttle program launched from its pad just prior to 11:30am this morning. The flight of Atlantis to the International Space Station marks the end of the 30 year program.
Bad weather hampered the launch and increased the possibility that the launch may be postponed. But, the weather couldn’t hold the Atlantis to the ground and she shook off gravity with her four-man crew on her 12 day mission to supply the station at 11:26am.
Over a million spectators traveled from far and wide to be on hand for the final launch. Budget hotels charged $300 a night and boat charters sold seats at $300 per person to see the launch from off-shore. Spots at the Space Center were sold on EBay for $500 to watch the launch from there.
Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator, told the press gathered inside the Space Center that the end of the Shuttle program did not mean a less ambitious space program but instead signaled a future of more ambitious goals while leaving manned space travel to private enterprise.
It does mean however that our astronauts will now have to rely on the Russian space program to travel to the space station.