Countdown Begins for Final Shuttle Mission

Posted July 5th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The countdown has begun for Friday's launch of the space shuttle Atlantis — the final shuttle flight in the 30-year U.S. shuttle program.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to gather for the launch Friday at Kennedy Space Center in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida.

Four astronauts will be on the 12-day shuttle mission to carry supplies to the International Space Station. In future, American astronauts will travel to the space station via Russian Soyuz capsules until the United States produces a new vehicle.

Experts with NASA, the U.S. space agency, say there is a 60 percent chance that rain or thunderstorms will delay the launch, but the weather prospects get better on Saturday and Sunday.