Space Shuttle Atlantis Blasts Off: Five Fast Facts

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Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off Friday for its mission to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

REUTERS/Scott Audette

The space shuttle Atlantis lifted off on schedule Friday, bound for the International Space Station on its last scheduled mission. Here’s five fast facts about the shuttle’s history.

  1. Atlantis’ first flight was nearly 25 years ago. The shuttle first lifted off on October 3, 1985. Since then, Atlantis has flown 31 missions.
  2. The space shuttle is named for a sailing ship that operated out of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Maryland.
  3. Atlantis weighs 151,315 pounds, nearly 4,000 pounds lighter than the space shuttle Columbia, constructed five years prior. In man-hours, construction on Atlantis also took half as long as Columbia.
  4. The shuttle was originally scheduled to be scrapped in 2008, when it was due to be stripped down for parts. However, in 2007, NASA gave the shuttle a reprieve for another two years, decommissioning it in 2010.
  5. This last flight, Atlantis’ 32nd, will deliver a Russian-made docking module and spare parts to the International Space Station. A crew of six astronauts are manning the space shuttle for the 12-day mission.