The Space Shuttle Atlantis has been given the ‘GO’ by NASA for the final and 135th flight of the space shuttle system on June 28, 2011 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida amid federal budget uncertainty.
President Barack Obama has signed a bill authorizing NASA to conduct the third and final mission, but the US space agency’s budget for 2011 remains to be approved so the shuttle flight depends on congressional authorization of extra funds during the winter or early spring.
The previously assigned four-member crew will take up supplies to the International Space Station, make one spacewalk, and return a faulty pump that has bedeviled engineers on a 12-day mission, according to NASA planners.
Atlantis was originally planned as an emergency launch-on-need (LON) rescue mission should the Endeavour crew have vehicle problems. The Atlantis will continue as the LON backup as “STS-335.” But if Endeavour’s flight proceeds normally, Atlantis will then be prepared for its own resupply mission, STS-135.
Discovery is scheduled to launch on February 24, 2011, the Endeavour is set for takeoff on April 19, 2011 and Atlantis has now been set for June 28, 2011 barring any assigned crew, engineering or political glitches, [MSNBC].