Friday, 8 July 2011

Space shuttle Atlantis in historic final lift-off

The 135th and final space shuttle mission has lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida.   Space shuttle Atlantis was launched into history at 1129 local time (1529 GMT; 1629 BST) on Friday.

The 12-day mission will ferry 3.5 tonnes of supplies to the International Space Station.  Upon its return, the 30-year space shuttle programme will come to a close, with Atlantis and the other two shuttles retired to museums.

For much of the week, a launch had been thought highly unlikely.  The weather on Thursday had thrown torrential rain at the orbiter, and forecasters had been talking grimly of similar conditions developing on Friday. But the promised showers never materialised and controllers in the "firing room" gave the "go" for the ascent after a positive poll from their ground teams.

The call prompted a huge cheer from the thousands of guests inside the Kennedy Space Center and a rush to grab the best viewing positions

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