Last-Ever Shuttle Launch Brings out Celebrities Big and Small

Space Shuttle Atlantis on launch pad
The space shuttle Atlantis stands poised for its final liftoff from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Image credit: collectSPACE/Robert Z. Pearlman)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — What can bring United States Attorney General Eric Holder, Geraldo Rivera and Kevin Sorbo, TV's "Hercules," together? While it may sound like a wacky new reality show, it's actually NASA's last-ever space shuttle launch.

The shuttle Atlantisis slated to blast off today (July 8) at 11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT) on the shuttle program's final mission. NASA is retiring the iconic vehicles after 30 years of spaceflight to concentrate on sending astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit to an asteroid and Mars.

Celebrities of widely varying star power are coming out to witness the historic event, according to NASA's VIP guest list. Holden and Sorbo are expected to attend, for example. So are Florida Governor Rick Scott and motivational speaker Vernice "Fly Girl" Armour. Gloria Estefan and Jimmy Buffet are other notable names on the list, too. [Photos: NASA Prepares for Final Shuttle Flight]

Here's NASA's complete list, from politicians to actors and musicians:  

Elected Officials

1. Florida Governor Rick Scott, R-FL

2. Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, R-FL

3. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT

4. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX

5. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL

6. Sen. Chris Coons, D-DE

7. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX-18

8. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-NC-07

9. Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-CA-38

10. Rep. Todd Platts, R-PA-19

11. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-OH-2

12. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-CO-05

13. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-CA-19

14. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-IL-14

15. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-MS-4

16. Rep. David Rivera, R-FL-25

Obama Administration Officials

17. Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General

18. John Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

19. Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce

20. Anthony Miller, Deputy Secretary of Education

21. Karen Mills, Small Business Administration Administrator

22. John Morton, Director, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement

23. Nancy Sutley, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality

Department of Defense Officials

24. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

International Dignitaries

25. Sergey Saveliev, Deputy Head, Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency)

26. Joao Vale De Almeida, Ambassador, European Union to the U.S.

27. Steve MacLean, President, Canadian Space Agency

28. Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry & Minister of State, Gov. of Canada

29. Gary Goodyear, Minister of State, Science & Technology, Canada

30. Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the U.S.

31. Keiji Tachikawa, President, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)

32. Michael B. Oren, Ambassador of Israel to the U.S.

33. Kim Beazley, Ambassador of Australia to the U.S.

NASA Alumni

34. Dan Goldin, Former NASA Administrator

35. Michael Griffin, Former NASA Administrator

36. Dan Mulville, Former NASA Deputy Administrator

37. Gen. John Dailey, Director, Smithsonian Air & Space Museum; former NASA Deputy Administrator

Arts, Entertainment & Other

38. Geraldo Rivera, Fox news

39. Gregory Hart, Fox news

40. Kevin Sorbo, Actor

41. Joe Gibbs, Gibbs Racing

42. Howard Bernstein, Channel 9 News

43. Leon Harris, WJLA News

44. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN White House Correspondent

45. Vernice “Fly Girl” Armour, motivational speaker

46. Peter Guber, Mandalay Entertainment

47. James Horner, Composer

48. Paula Kerger, President & CEO, Public Broadcasting System

49. Lee Perryman

50. Peter Cullen, Voice Actor

51. Alan Parsons, Musician

52. Mark Wolfe, Producer

53. Stefan Sonenfield, Producer

54. Zen Cymbala, NBC

55. Hector Bustamante, Actor

56. Steve Wozniak, Apple Computer co-founder

57. Jimmy Buffet, Musician

58. Gloria Estefan, Musician

59. Barry Corbin, Actor

60. Diana Krall, Musician

61. Ted Kennedy, Jr.

62. Kiley Kennedy

63. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

64. Katherine Townsend

VIP lists like this one are generally only valid for the day they're issued (the day the launch is scheduled for), NASA officials have said. If bad weather scrubs today's launch — which is 70 percent likely, according to the latest forecasts — the list for the next attempt might be different.

Atlantis also has launch windows open Saturday and Sunday, with better chances of success. The odds of a weather-related scrub are 40 percent on Saturday and 50 percent on Sunday, NASA officials said.

Atlantis is embarking on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. The shuttle will drop off 9,500 pounds (4,309 kilograms) of supplies and spare parts for the orbiting lab, along with several experiments.

You can follow senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter: @michaeldwall. Visit for complete coverage of Atlantis' final mission STS-135 or follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.