The mood of the crowd during the blastoff of the Atlantis space shuttle was bittersweet. Hundreds of thousands of people were present to witness the launch, and many more were watching live coverage all over the world. The last shuttle launch marks the end of an era, and a time of uncertainty about NASA’s future.
The Atlantis shuttle is embarking on STS-135, a mission with the objective of stocking up the International Space Station for enough supplies to last another year. Once the mission is completed, the Atlantis shuttle will join the Discovery and Endeavour as a museum display.
The launch went smoothly, after a two minute delay due to concerns about some mechanical issues.
Though there have been reassurances that NASA will still participate in space exploration by other means, the last shuttle mission marks the end of an era for our society. How long will it be before we send shuttle missions into space again?