Today, after 133 launches spanning nearly three decades, the era of the Space Shuttle is set to close with one final launch. Atlantis is currently on the launchpad, fueled, loaded with her four man crew and ready to delivery supplies to the ISS. It’s a bittersweet day as an exciting time in the US’s space history comes to a close, but unfortunately due to budget constraints rather than replacement with a new launch vehicle.
The launch is scheduled for 11:26 EDT today, but it might not happen. The weather isn’t cooperating but Launch Director Mike Leinbach told the launch team, “We do have a shot at this today.” If today’s launch is scrubbed, they will try again tomorrow.
NASA has the social media thing down. There are several different venues to follow along. The Ustream feed is embedded after the jump and NASA’s official Twitter feed is understandable active this morning. Xeni Jardin also happens to be on site and is liveblogging the event. Follow her updates here.
It’s all up to the weather now. NASA gave a “Go” to fuel the external tank at 2:01AM this morning despite the weather. Lightning actually stuck near the shuttle last night. Atlantis’s 33rd and final mission will be delayed and given a “No Go” if the weather deteriorates. But the weather won’t stop the inevitable. The final Space Shuttle mission will happen in the next few days.