Final Space Shuttle Launch in Pictures [Slide Show]

The July 8 launch of Atlantis was as visually spectacular as any prior shuttle liftoff, but the images are particularly compelling for their historic import

Damian Salas

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One of the most anticipated shuttle launches of all time took place July 8 when Atlantis lifted off at 11:29 A.M. Eastern time for its 33rd and final mission—both for it and NASA's 30-year-old manned space shuttle program. The launch and orbital insertion were flawless.

The STS 135 flight carries a crew of four shuttle veterans, Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, along with mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus.

During Atlantis's 12-day mission the crew will deliver the Italian Space Agency's reusable Raffaello Multipurpose Logistics Module loaded with around 3,500 kilograms of science experiments, supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station.

View a slideshow of images showing the launch from beginning to end.

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