NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis has begun its final mission with a 12-day mission to the International Space Station since 11:29 a.m. EDT, July 8. It is the 135th and final flight in NASA's shuttle program.

Once the space shuttle comes back from space, the shuttle era will be over.

Atlantis' construction began on March 3, 1980. With the help of lessons learned in the construction and testing of orbiters Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger, the construction of Atlantis cost about half the time in man-hours spent on Columbia. On April 9, 1985, Atlantis went into NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Weighing in at 151,315 pounds, Atlantis was nearly 3.5 tons lighter than Columbia.

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The Name of Atlantis

Atlantis, NASA's 4th space-rated space shuttle, was named after the two-masted boat that served as the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966. The boat had a 17-member crew and accommodated up to five scientists who worked in two onboard laboratories, examining water samples and marine life. The crew also used the first electronic sounding devices to map the ocean floor.

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Facts

Length: Space shuttle: 184 feet, Orbiter: 122 feet

Height: Orbiter on runway: 57 feet

Wingspan: 78 feet

Liftoff Weight: 4.5 million pounds

Orbit: 115 to 400 statute miles, Velocity: 17,321 mph

Construction Milestones

Jan. 29, 1979: Contract Award

March 30, 1980: Start structural assembly of crew module

Nov. 23, 1981: Start structural assembly of aft-fuselage

June 13, 1983: Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman

Dec. 2, 1983: Start of Final Assembly

April 10, 1984: Completed final assembly

March 6, 1985: Rollout from Palmdale

April 3, 1985: Overland transport from Palmdale to Edwards

April 13, 1985: Delivery to Kennedy Space Center

Sept. 12, 1985: Flight Readiness Firing

Oct. 3, 1985: First Flight (STS 51-J)

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