Monday, September 12, 2011

Space Shuttle Atlantis

Space Shuttle Atlantis

Atlantis (OV-104) was delivered to Kennedy Space Center in April 1985. It lifted off on its maiden voyage on Oct. 3, 1985, on mission 51-J, the second dedicated Department of Defense flight. Later missions included the launch of the Galileo interplanetary probe to Jupiter on STS-34 in October 1989, and STS-37, with the Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO) as its primary payload, in April 1991.

Atlantis is named after a two-masted sailing ship that was operated for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute from 1930 to 1966.

Space Shuttle AtlantisAtlantis also served as the on-orbit launch site for many noteworthy spacecraft, including planetary probes Magellan and Galileo, as well as the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. An impressive array of onboard science experiments took place during most missions to further enhance space research in low Earth orbit.

Starting with STS-71, Atlantis pioneered the Shuttle-Mir missions, flying the first seven missions to dock with the Russian space station. When linked, Atlantis and Mir together formed the largest spacecraft in orbit at the time. The missions to Mir included the first on-orbit U.S. crew exchanges, now a common occurrence on the International Space Station. On STS-79, the fourth docking mission, Atlantis ferried astronaut Shannon Lucid back to Earth after her record-setting 188 days in orbit aboard Mir.

In recent years, Atlantis has delivered several vital components to the International Space Station, including the U.S. laboratory module, Destiny, as well as the Joint Airlock Quest and multiple sections of the Integrated Truss structure that makes up the Station's backbone. As NASA seeks to fulfill the Vision for Space Exploration, beginning with the completion of the Station, Atlantis will be called upon for many missions to come.

No comments: