When Space Shuttle Atlantis left Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on Friday, July 8, it marked the final liftoff for the long-running Space Shuttle Program, which has dominated NASA's manned operations for the past four decades. Over a 12-day mission (since extended to 13 days), the four-person crew on STS-135 will haul the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello and a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Carrier (LMC) to the International Space Station. Over the course of the mission, we'll be providing daily updates.
After a long day -- flight engineers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan completed a spacewalk that lasted more than six hours -- the NASA crew onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis had an early night on flight day 5. For the best, as the morning wakeup song -- Elton John's "Rocket Man" -- came at 2:29 a.m. EDT this morning. Once awake, the astronauts were greeted with a special message from Sir Elton John himself: "Good morning, Atlantis, this is Elton John," he said in a recording. "We wish you much success on your mission. A huge thank you to all the men and women at NASA who worked on the shuttle for the last three decades."
Story continues after the gallery, which will be updated as the mission wears on.
The message from Sir John was a good way to get the crew ready for a long day of ... moving, basically. The astronauts onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis spent most of flight day 6 moving equipment and supplies out of the Raffaello multi-purpose module and into the International Space Station. They took a break at 12:54 p.m. to speak with reporters from KGO-TV in San Francisco and WBNG-TV and WICZ-TV in Binghamton, New York.
As I write this daily update, the combined 10-person team on the International Space Station and the docked Space Shuttle are already asleep. Lights out for the day was at 4:59 p.m. EDT for the station crew; the Shuttle crew followed at 5:29 p.m. EDT. Tomorrow, they have to wake up at 1:29 a.m. EDT. To what, we don't yet know; but check back late tomorrow afternoon