NASA to Launch Final Shuttle Mission on July 8

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Officials with the U.S. space agency, NASA, have voted unanimously to set July 8 as the launch date for the U.S. shuttle program's last mission.

NASA made the announcement Tuesday on its Twitter feed.

The space shuttle Atlantis will be carrying out the final mission of the 30-year shuttle program. Atlantis will bring a crew of four to the International Space Station, along with a multi-purpose module filled with supplies and spare parts to sustain station operations once the U.S. shuttles are retired.

The mission is scheduled to last 12 days.

Six crew members– three Russians, two Americans and one Japanese astronaut — are currently at the space station.

Earlier Tuesday, an unidentified piece of space debris came close to the station, forcing the crew members to seek shelter in their rescue craft.

News reports said the space junk passed within about 245 meters of the space station.