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Atlantis caps successful shuttle year

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Atlantis caps successful shuttle year


It was a flawless launch for the last space shuttle mission of the year, with Atlantis blasting into the early evening Florida sky on its way to the international space station.

The 11-day mission is to complete the outfitting of the ISS so its working life can go way beyond the retirement of America’s remaining shuttle fleet of three, scheduled for next year after 30 year’s service. Atlantis is fully loaded for this trip, with six crew members, three of whom have never been in space before, and over 13 tons of equipment that is too big to go into the Russian, European and Japanese cargo rockets that will take over from the shuttle. After the Atlantis mission five flights remain to finish building the ISS, which should then be able to remain in orbit for another 5 to 10 years.
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