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July 8, 2011
Shuttle lifts off for last time
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Atlantis and four astronauts thundered into orbit Friday on NASA's last space shuttle voyage, writing the final chapter in a 30-year story of dazzling triumphs, shattering tragedy and, ultimately, unfulfilled expectations. After days of gloomy forecasts full of rain and heavy cloud cover, the spaceship lifted off at 11:29 a.m. -- just 2 minutes late -- and embarked on the 135th shuttle mission. The crowd of spectators was estimated at nearly 1 million. (30 images)


Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, July 8, 2011. The STS135 mission, the final shuttle flight, will bring supplies to the international space station. AP / John Raoux


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The space shuttle Atlantis is perched on pad 39a Wednesday, June 1, 2011 after being rolled out in preparation for it final launch targeted for July 8th, at Kennedy Space Center in . Florida Today / Craig Rubadoux



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The space shuttle Atlantis sits on Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39-A Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Chris O'Meara



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Space shuttle Atlantis is seen from the 34th floor in the Vehicle Assembly Building before rolling out to Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, May 31, 2011. AP / Chris O'Meara



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Space shuttle Atlantis is seen as workers prepare the orbiter to be lifted and attached to its external fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, May 18, 2011. AP / John Raoux



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Space shuttle Atlantis, STS-135, is the last shuttle to rollout of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, making the slow trek to launch pad 39A as the shuttle program comes to an end. Orlando Sentinel / Red Huber



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Spectators watch as the rotating service structure rolls away from Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla. , Thursday July 7, 2011. AP / Stan Honda



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Workers make their way off the Rotating Service Structure at the Kennedy Space Center Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Dave Martin



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Xavier Ladik of Philadelphia tries on a helmet at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / David J. Phillip



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In this image provided by NASA, the space shuttle Atlantis is seen shortly after the rotating service structure (RSS) was rolled back at launch pad 39a, Thursday, July 7, 2011 at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA / Bill Ingalls



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People watch a video at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / David J. Phillip



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A rainbow is seen over the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Terry Renna



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The space shuttle Atlantis astronauts left to right, mission specialists Rex Walheim, Sandy Magnus, pilot Doug Hurley and commander Chris Ferguson, leave the operations and check-out building on the way to the pad at the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Terry Renna



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The Howard family from Huddersfield, England, walk along the Max Brewer Bridge before the launch of space shuttle Atlantis Friday, July 8, 2011, in Titusville, Fla. AP / David J. Phillip



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Spectators make their way up the Max Brewer Bridge to view the launch of space shuttle Atlantis Friday, July 8, 2011, in Titusville, Fla. AP / David J. Phillip



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People sleep under a pier early in the morning in Cocoa Beach on Friday, July 8, 2011. The early arrivers were anxious for a good spot to view the final launch of space shuttle Atlantis. AP / Dave Martin



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Sarah Paschall, of Jacksonville, Fla., looks out from her tent as she waits for the launch of space shuttle Atlantis Friday, July 8, 2011, in Titusville, Fla. AP / David J. Phillip



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Spectators watch the final launch of space shuttle Atlantis in Titusville, Fla., Friday, July 8, 2011. AP / Gerry Broome



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Spectators watch the final launch of space shuttle Atlantis in Titusville, Fla., Friday, July 8, 2011. AP / Gerry Broome



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Doug Chambers raises his hands as space shuttle Atlantis lifts off Friday, July 8, 2011, in Titusville, Fla. on the last shuttle fiight of the 30-year space shuttle era. AP / David J. Phillip



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Bill Crantrell gives a thumbs up as the space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Chris O'Meara



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The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Chris O'Meara



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Spectators watch space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Terry Renna



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The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Terry Renna



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The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Chris O'Meara



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The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / John Raoux



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The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / John Raoux



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The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Morry Gash



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The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Morry Gash



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The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. AP / Denis Paquin



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