Skip to main content

Space shuttle lifts off Friday

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Space shuttle Atlantis' final voyage
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off Friday afternoon
  • Two-week mission will take crew to the international space station
  • Mission is one of the final three for the shuttle program

Kennedy Space Center, Florida (CNN) -- The space shuttle Atlantis lifted off Friday afternoon on its final planned mission.

The shuttle blasted off under bright sunny skies at 2:20 p.m.

The six astronauts on board plan to deliver an integrated cargo carrier and a Russian-built mini-research module to the international space station. They also plan to bring a "set of batteries for the station's truss and dish antenna, along with other replacement parts," NASA says.

In addition to the mission that got under way Friday afternoon, NASA has plans for two space shuttle missions before the program ends.

This Just In: The (maybe) final flight of Atlantis

Atlantis has flown more than 115 million miles in almost 25 years, NASA says. It was the first orbiter to dock with the Russian space station, Mir.

"Atlantis has a history of being the shuttle that did the most international things," said Emily Nelson, lead space station flight director for the mission.

"It's the orbiter that the Russians have known best, because it's one that came to their space station most often, and it's one that we used to deliver a module for them in the past."

Atlantis also carried into orbit the Magellan spacecraft, which went on to map 98 percent of the planet Venus. It also sent the Galileo spacecraft on its way to collect data about Jupiter and its moons for eight years.