Countdown to NASA's Last Shuttle Launch

Space shuttle Atlantis stands on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it is set to liftoff on STS-135, the final shuttle mission.
Space shuttle Atlantis stands on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it is set to liftoff on STS-135, the final shuttle mission. (Image credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach)

NASA's last space shuttle ever to roar off the launch pad and soar in orbit around Earth will blast off on July 8 from NASA's storied spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The orbiter Atlantis will launch from the seaside Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT) for NASA's shuttle swan song. Atlantis and a crew of four astronauts will fly a 12-day mission to the International Space Station to deliver spare parts and supplies for the orbiting lab.

In honor of the final shuttle countdown, has made a list of its own space shuttle countdowns leading up to the last-ever launch of  NASA's winged reusable spaceship fleet:

Tuesday, June 28

10 Amazing Space Shuttle Photos
NASA's reusable spaceship has had countless photogenic moments over the years. In fact, the iconic space shuttle can hardly take a bad picture. While the list of best shuttle photos could go on forever, here are 10 stunning pictures that we thought stood out from the space shuttle's 30-year run.

Space Shuttle Mission Chronology
Every space shuttle mission from 2011 back to 1981: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

Wednesday, June 29

9 Weird Things That Flew on NASA's Space Shuttles
When NASA's space shuttles launch into orbit, they don't just carry astronauts and supplies into the final frontier. There's a lot of other weird stuff that makes the out-of-this-world journey, too.Here nine recent space oddities carried into orbit on NASA shuttles.

Space Shuttle Memories: Share Your Experiences for NASA's Last Flight
What's your fondest memory of the space shuttle program? Managing Editor Tariq Malik shares his first up-close glimpse of shuttle Atlantis, the last to fly.

Thursday, June 30

8 Surprising Space Shuttle Facts
After 30 years of service, NASA's fleet of three space shuttles is standing down for good. As we say goodbye to the iconic reusable space planes, here are eight surprising shuttle facts to keep in mind.

Friday, July 1

7 Notable Space Shuttle Astronauts
The space shuttle has launched 134 times during its 30 years of service, and in that time it has ferried more than 540 astronauts into space. While each shuttle astronaut has made unique contributions to America's space program, a few space travelers especially stand out. Here's a look at seven of the brave men and women who've ridden to space on the shuttles.

Saturday, July 2

6 Coolest Space Shuttle Science Experiments
The chief science legacy of NASA's space shuttle program may be the International Space Station, the gigantic orbiting lab that shuttle missions helped build over the past 13 years. But lots of interesting research has also been done aboard the shuttles themselves since they started flying in 1981.

Sunday, July 3

5 Patriotic Space Shuttle Missions
NASA's space shuttles have been icons of American spaceflight for over 30 years, but the storied space planes are retiring for good this year after one final mission in July 2011.As NASA prepares to shut down its iconic shuttle program, here's a look at five of the most patriotic shuttle missions ever flown.

Monday, July 4 (Independence Day)

4 Great Holiday Space Shuttle Flights
Astronauts have been working in space during holidays since the dawn of human spaceflight and this year is no exception. This Fourth of July finds six people living in orbit on the International Space Station while NASA's last space shuttle crew heads to the launch site for a planned July 8 blastoff.

Tuesday, July 5

The 3 Most Flown Space Shuttles of NASA's Fleet
Over the course of 30 years, NASA's space shuttles have played a critical role in constructing the International Space Station, launching and servicing satellites and observatories in orbit, and delivering astronauts and many tons of cargo into space.

Wednesday, July 6

NASA's 2 Female Space Shuttle Commanders
Though dozens of women have flown on the space shuttle during the course of its 30-year career, only two have commanded the spaceship.

Thursday, July 7

No. 1: Space Shuttle Program's Biggest Accomplishment

Friday, July 8

Last Launch of a NASA Space Shuttle

Visit for complete coverage of Atlantis' final mission STS-135 or follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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News and editorial team is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.