NASA just confirmed the shuttle's last-ever mission will launch on July 8th. The space shuttle Atlantis will blast off headed for the International Space Station this Friday for a very important mission, in which it will deliver the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to the orbiting outpost, bearing supplies, food for a whole year and spares.
The 12-day STS-135 mission will be launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This will be the 135th shuttle mission, Atlantis' 33rd flight and the 37th shuttle mission to the station.
Bill Gerstenmaier, assistant administrator for space operations, said: "We had a very thorough review. This flight is incredibly important. The cargo that is coming up on this flight is really mandatory for space station."
Mike Moses, Space Shuttle Program launch integration manager, chipped in with: "We're really looking forward to achieving this mission, putting station where it needs to be and finishing strong with the shuttle program here with STS-135."
Besides the Raffaello logistics module, Atlantis will also be responsible for delivering the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), which in a nut shell can be considered as a 'robot gas station' designed to try out the tools, technologies and techniques needed to refuel satellites in space. This also includes satellites that were never designed to be serviced. So, a pretty fitting important job for NASA's last ever shuttle mission before permantely shelving it.
When it returns from its final 12-day trip, Atlantis will be put on permanent display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.