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NASA schedules final space shuttle mission

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Atlantis is slated to launch on July 8
  • It will be the final flight for the space shuttle program

(CNN) -- Thirty years after the space shuttle program began, the final space shuttle flight is slated to take place on July 8, NASA said Friday.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis will make the program's final voyage on a mission to deliver supplies and spare parts to the international space station, the agency said.

Chris Ferguson, a veteran of two shuttle missions, will command the flight, set to launch at 11:40 a.m., NASA said.

The Atlantis mission will be the 135th and final mission for the program.

The 12-day mission will deploy an experiment to examine how satellites could be robotically refueled in space, and the crew also will return an ammonia pump that recently failed on the space station, NASA said.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour is on a mission to the space station and is set to return to Earth on June 1, the same day that Atlantis is scheduled to roll out to the launch pad.

The shuttle program's end, and the uncertainly surrounding the future of NASA and the U.S. space program, have been hot topics in recent months.

Michael D. Leinbach, NASA's shuttle launch director, acknowledged last week that "the mood is a little bit downcast" in the space agency, especially with some NASA employees recently getting notices warning them that they could lose their jobs.