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Atlantis launch draws near

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image Evening falls on STS-135 Atlantis on Launch Pad 39A, July 7, 2011. Mitch Traphagen Photo

The last ever shuttle launch is fast approaching.

By MITCH TRAPHAGEN

 

The day before the scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis was cloudy and wet at Kennedy Space Center.  The countdown clock, however, continues to wind down towards 11:26 a.m. Friday.  For the second straight day, NASA meteorologists give a 30 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time.

 

If you live in South Hillsborough and haven’t left for Titusville yet, you may want to stay home at this point.  Up to one million people are expected to turn out to see the launch.  Titusville itself is a city of satellite news trucks, orange cones and porta-potties.  City officials have said they will work hard to accommodate the crowds, some of whom have been camping in city parks for the past few days.  As long as anyone is parked legally and safely, chances are they’ll be OK.  The problem at this point, however, is finding that safe and legal parking spot.

 

Even if the launch isn’t viewable from the Tampa Bay area, everyone will certainly have their choice of media from which to watch it live.  All Tampa Bay stations are represented along with media outlets from around the world.

 

And speaking of media outlets, follow the Observer News for full post-launch coverage. 

 

STS-135 Atlantis is the 135th and final shuttle mission and will cap the more than 30-year-old space shuttle program.  NASA has committed to a future of human spaceflight using the recently unveiled Orion capsule intended for deep space travel.  That vehicle may be several years away from use, however. 

 

Go Atlantis! 

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