After 134 take-offs, the last space expedition for the Atlantis space shuttle is expected to take place on Friday the 8th of July from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space shuttle commander Chris Ferguson will be accompanied by astronauts Rex Waldheim and Sandy Magnus, and pilot Dough Hurley on this final shuttle mission.
About 750,000 tourists are expected to watch Atlantis take off above a cloud of smoke and flames. Because of the unfavourable weather conditions, there is a 30 percent chance that this expedition will happen on the set date.
The space shuttle is the only reusable space machine. Its role in building the now completed international space station is crucial. Using the shuttle the crew has launched satellites, gone for space walks, mended the Hubble telescope and conducted experiments that assisted human understand the effects of lack of gravity on living creatures. It has made space travel less fearful and co-ordinated space missions with other international players.
With the completion of the space station and the proliferation of spacecrafts from private companies like SpaceX and countries like Russia and Japan, space travel for the common man could be nearer than previously thought. New products in the pipeline for NASA include commercial space taxis and spacecrafts able to traverse further than the space shuttles ever could.