Government IT: Atlantis' Final Flight Ends 30 Years of NASA Shuttle History
The launch of the space shuttle Atlantis marked the end of an era for NASA as the shuttle program draws to a close after 30 years. During the 12-day mission to the International Space Station, Atlantis and its crew will deliver the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module containing supplies and spare parts for the space station and its crew. The mission will fly the RRM (Robotic Refueling Mission), an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically refuel satellites in space, even satellites not designed to be serviced. Atlantis, the fourth orbiter built, flew its maiden voyage Oct. 3, 1985. Later missions included the first docking to the Russian Mir space station in June 1995; the delivery of the Destiny Laboratory to the space station on in February 2001; the first launch with a camera mounted to the external tank, which captured the shuttle's ascent to orbit in October 2002; and the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on in May 2009. Atlantis is named after the two-masted, primary research ship that operated for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966.