Update 4: Official NASA launch footage:
Update 3: Launch photo in HD
Update 2: Visit the STS-132 gallery to see a great collection of Atlantis launch photos.
Update 1: Check out the launch timeline for launch milestones and more photos.
May 14, 2010 at 18:20:09 UTC, NASA successfully launched the Space Shuttle Atlantis on its 32nd flight – the 34th shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). STS-132 is the final scheduled flight for Atlantis. It is also the first US spaceflight since STS-97 to only have veteran astronauts (astronauts who have flown at least one previous mission) on board. Six crew members of STS-132, commanded by NASA astronaut and US Navy captain Kenneth “Hock” Todd Ham (STS-124), will stay in space 11 Days 18 Hours 23 Minutes and land at the Kennedy Space Center on May 26 12:44 (UTC time). Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman (STS-123, Expedition 16, Expedition 17, STS-124), Michael Good (STS-125) and Steve Bowen (STS-126) will spend a total of 19.5 hours outside the station on flight days 4, 6 and 8.
Atlantis’ 12-day mission will deliver the Russian-built Mini Research Module-1 that will provide additional storage space and a new docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. MRM-1, also known as Rassvet (dawn in Russian), will be permanently attached to the bottom port of the station’s Zarya module. MRM-1 will carry important hardware on its exterior including a radiator, airlock and a European robotic arm. Atlantis also will deliver additional station hardware stored inside a cargo carrier.
Three spacewalks are planned to stage spare components outside the station. On flight day 4, Reisman and Bowen will install a spare space-to-ground Ku-band antenna on the station’s truss, or backbone. Then they will install a new tool platform on Dextre. The spacewalkers will break the torque on bolts holding batteries in place on the truss, in preparation for their removal and replacement on the second and third spacewalks. Battery preparation work was deferred from STS-131 to this flight.
On flight day 6, Bowen and Good will remove and replace three of the six batteries on the port truss to store electricity from the solar arrays on that truss. The used batteries will be installed on the cargo carrier for return to Earth on Atlantis. On flight day 8, Good and Reisman will install the final three new batteries on the truss and put the old batteries on the carrier. Next, if time permits, they will retrieve a grapple fixture from Atlantis’ payload bay and bring it inside the station for use as a spare.
A compact disk containing the digital copies of all entries submitted to NASA’s Space Shuttle Program Commemorative Patch Contest will be flown on STS-132. The contest was held to mark the end of the shuttle era. The winning patch was designed by Blake Dumesnil of Hamilton Sundstrand, Johnson Space Center. A panel of NASA judges selected the winning patch from 85 entries submitted by NASA employees and contractors.
During its 32 missions and more than 25 years of service Space Shuttle Atlantis has carried more than 200 astronauts and flown more than 100 million miles. Atlantis lifted off on its maiden voyage on October 3, 1985, on mission 51-J. Later missions included the launch of the Magellan probe to Venus on STS-30 in May 1989, Galileo interplanetary probe to Jupiter on STS-34 in October 1989, the first shuttle docking to the Mir Space Station on STS-71 in June 1995 and the final Hubble servicing mission on STS-125 in May 2009.
Although STS-132 is the last scheduled flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis, the orbiter will be prepared for the possibility of a STS-335 Launch On Need (LON) mission, in the unlikely event that STS-134 suffers severe damage requiring a crew rescue. If LON is not required, Atlantis, her external tank, and her two solid rocket boosters will have been prepared to nearly flight-ready status but will not be used for flight. The potential STS-135 would use this prepared and paid-for hardware to fly a full operational mission. Mission planners anticipate STS-135 would fly four crew members and a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch could occur after STS-134, in early 2011. Because STS-135 would not have its own shuttle-based LON mission, two Russian Soyuz spacecraft would be used in the event a crew rescue is needed.