NASA space shuttle Atlantis is getting ready for its targeted July 8 launch to the International Space Station, which will close 30 years of the space shuttle program. The shuttle is expected to launch on July 8 at 11:26 am EDT.
The shuttle will be adorned with a nose-art painting on its fuel tank, along with the United States flag and the NASA logo. The new logo, which is based on the old tagline The Gem of the Galaxy when NASA's first shuttle was launched in April 1981, depicts the shuttle with a diamond-shaped background.
The logo shows the U.S. flag and two sets of stars -- 14 in memory of the astronauts killed in Challenger and Columbia shuttles and 5 symbolizing the five space shuttles including Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis. In addition, an inscription reads Space Shuttle Program 1981 - 2011, the years of space shuttle program undertaken by NASA.
The logo was designed by Blake Dumesnil, an engineer at Johnson Space Center in Houston, and was painted on the door by Lockheed Martin graphic artist Jon Irving, who works at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the tank was built. ET-138’s ‘nose art’ was finalized after the NASA Space Shuttle Program Commemorative Patch contest.
The space shuttle Atlantis will carry the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station during STS-135, which is the last planned space shuttle mission since STS-1.
The mission will also fly a system to investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing spacecraft and return a failed ammonia pump module to help NASA better understand the failure mechanism and improve pump designs for future systems.
Atlantis is to fly the 12-day mission with four crew members: Commander Christopher Ferguson, Pilot Douglas Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim.
Atlantis’ four veteran astronauts are scheduled to fly in their T-38 aircraft from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to Kennedy on Monday. The crew members are set to arrive at about 5:45 pm EDT to begin their prelaunch countdown dress rehearsal, called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT), and related training.
STS-135 will be the 33rd flight of Atlantis, the 37th shuttle mission to the space station, and the 135th and final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program.
Take a glimpse of the space shuttle Atlantis at the launch pad and the shuttle's previous mission: