Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-135


Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-135 was the final Space Shuttle mission. The flight carried the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics (MPLM) with supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station. Space Shuttle was launched on 8 July 2011.

Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-135 Picture

The mission flew a system to investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing spacecraft.

Note: This was the 37th shuttle mission to the station and the 135th and final scheduled shuttle flight, the 12th time Atlantis has arrived at the space station and the 46th by a U.S. shuttle.


NASA announced the STS-335/135 crew on 14 September 2010. It was the first time that a crew of four would fly to the International Space Station.

Spacewalks: One conducted by ISS crew member.

Mission Duration: 13 days

STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis Rollout Picture

Day 2: Sunday 10th, July 2011:

On Sunday 10th, July 2011 space shuttle Atlantis docked with the International Space Station, marking the final time that the U.S. spacecraft will arrive at the orbiting outpost.

At 12:47 p.m. EDT, hatches were opened between the International Space Station and space shuttle Atlantis, beginning the joint phase of the STS-135 mission.

Space shuttle Atlantis docked with the International Space Station at 11:07 a.m. EDT Sunday with a cargo-carrying module in its payload bay filled with equipment and supplies for the orbiting laboratory. Hatches separating crews were opened at 12:47 p.m. Shuttle crew members, Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim, entered the station moments later to begin their week-plus stay.

Ferguson and Hurley used the shuttle arm to take its 50-foot extension boom from the station’s Canadarm2 operated by station Flight Engineers Ron Garan and Satoshi Furukawa. The station arm had plucked the boom from its stowage position on the shuttle cargo bay sill. The handoff was to prepare to use the boom for any needed shuttle heat shield inspection later this week. Magnus worked with TV setup and Walheim transferred spacewalk gear.

Docking had gone just as planned. Ferguson and the crew of space shuttle Atlantis began their final approach to the station from about eight miles distance with the terminal initiation burn at 8:29 a.m.

About 600 feet below the station, Atlantis did a backflip to enable station crew members to photograph the shuttle’s heat shield. The photos were sent to mission control to be evaluated by experts on the ground to look for any damage.

Flight controllers began monitoring reports from the Department of Defense’s U.S. Strategic Command that a piece of orbital debris may come near the station and shuttle complex about noon on Tuesday. The debris, part of satellite COSMOS 375, is one of more than 500,000 pieces of debris tracked in Earth’s orbit. The team expected updated tracking information following today’s docking to help determine if a maneuver using the shuttle’s thrusters is necessary to avoid the debris.

The crew sleep period is scheduled to begin at 6:59 p.m. Flight Day 4 begins with crew wake up at 2:59 a.m. Monday.

Day 3: Monday 11th, July, 2011

Piloting the Canadarm2 from the robotic workstation in the International Space Station’s cupola, astronauts Doug Hurley and Sandy Magnus grabbed the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module at 5:16 a.m. EDT. They lifted it out of shuttle Atlantis’ cargo bay at 5:47 a.m. and installed it on the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony node at 6:46 a.m.

The 21-foot long, 15-foot diameter Raffaello is packed with 9,403 pounds of spare parts, spare equipment, and other supplies – including 2,677 pounds of food – that will sustain space station operations for a year. Raffaello carries eight Resupply Stowage Platforms (RSPs), two Intermediate Stowage Platforms (ISPs), six Resupply Stowage Racks (RSRs) and one Zero Stowage Rack.

Capcom Megan McArthur notified Atlantis Commander Chris Ferguson that the Mission Management Team has extended STS-135 by one day and determined a Focused Inspection of the shuttle heat shield is not required.

STS-135 Mission Patch Picture

Day 4: Tuesday 12th, July, 2011

Spacewalkers Install Robotic Refueling Mission Experiment.

Day 5: Wednesday 13th, July, 2011

Wakeup song was Elton John’s “Rocket Man

Day 6: Thursday 14th, July, 2011

Wakeup song was ‘Man on the Moon,” by Michael Stipe of R.E.M.

Day 7: Friday 15th, July, 2011

Atlantis Crew Awakened by  ‘Good Day Sunshine’ by Paul McCartney (Beatles)

Shuttle and Station Crews Speak with President Obama

Day 8: Saturday 16th, July, 2011

Wakeup Song is by Beyonce Knowles.

Shuttle Crew Leaves Historic Flag Aboard Station for Next U.S. Crew Vehicle

Day 9: Sunday 17th, July, 2011

NASA’s Last Space Shuttle Crew Almost Done Packing Up. General Purpose Computer 4 Healthy Again.

Moving days aboard the International Space Station are nearing completion for the station and shuttle crews.

The 9,400 pounds of equipment and supplies brought up by the multi-purpose logistics module have been moved to the International Space Station. The loading of Raffaello with almost 5,700 pounds of unneeded station equipment and trash also is almost finished.

The Raffaelo module is scheduled to be unberthed early Monday from the station’s Harmony node and secured in space shuttle Atlantis’ cargo bay for the ride home. At the controls of the station’s Canadarm2 will be Atlantis Mission Specialist Sandra Magnus, who served as load master for the complex and demanding cargo transfer, and Pilot Doug Hurley.

The crew is scheduled to awaken at 10:29 p.m.

Day 10: Monday 18th, July, 2011

•July 18: Raffaello returned to shuttle bay

A busy day that featured the return of the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module to Atlantis’ cargo bay and an emotional farewell ceremony.

•July 19: Undocking from station

Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-135 is the final Space Shuttle mission. STS-135 flight carried the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics with supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station. 

•July 20: Test re-entry and landing systems

•July 21: LANDING in Florida @ 5:58 a.m.

Space Shuttle Atlantis had orbited Earth 200 times. It landed for last time at Kennedy Space Center on 21 July 2011. This was final flight for the Space Shuttle Program.


The STS-135 crew members are:

1. Chris Ferguson (Commander)
2. Doug Hurley (Pilot)
3. Sandy Magnus (Mission Specialist)
4. Rex Walheim (Mission Specialist)


Did you know?

STS-134 was the previous Space Shuttle missions. The third last shuttle mission was STS-133.

The last shuttle mission to fly with just four crewmembers on board was STS-6, launched on 4 April 1983, 28 years before STS-135, aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. The reduced crew size allows the mission to maximize the amount of payload carried to the ISS and also allow for rescue by Soyuz to be performed if necessary.

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