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.
Story continues after the gallery, which will be updated as the mission wears on.
At 1:29 a.m. EDT, the wakeup song of flight day 7 started playing. The astronauts were roused by Michael Stipe's "Man on the Moon," which was followed by a special message prerecorded by Stipe of R.E.M. fame. "Good morning, Atlantis," Stipe said. "This is Michael Stipe from R.E.M. We wish you much success on your mission and thank all the women and men at NASA who have worked on the shuttle for three decades. From Earth, a very good morning to you."
NASA provided even more information from Stipe for interested parties: "I recorded 'Man on the Moon' for NASA in Venice, Italy, where Galileo first presented to the Venician government his eight-power telescope, and in 1610 wrote 'The Starry Messenger' (Sidereus Nuncius), an account of his early astronomical discoveries that altered forever our view of our place in the universe."
After getting about halfway through the process of transferring all of the supplies and equipment out of the Raffaello multi-purpose module and into the International Space Station, the crews spent time fielding questions from reporters. Once they were finished with that, the astronauts were given the rest of the afternoon off before bedtime at 3:59 p.m. EDT for the Station crew and 4:29 p.m. for the Shuttle crew.