Cheers and shouts can be heard throughout the Kennedy Space Center as Atlantis roars off the launch pad into a clear blue Florida sky.
Within 10 minutes, the shuttle will be in orbit around the Earth. Within 24 hours Atlantis will undergo the rendezvous pitch maneuver and thermal protection system tile inspection. By flight day 3, Atlantis will be ready to dock with the International Space Station.
Mission and Crew
Mission STS-117 is the Space Shuttle Program’s 21st mission to the International Space Station. Rick Sturckow will command the mission and Lee Archambault will serve as Atlantis’ pilot. Mission Specialists Patrick Forrester, James Reilly, Steven Swanson, John Olivas and Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson round out the crew to deliver the S3/S4 starboard truss segments, batteries and another pair of solar arrays to the space station. Anderson will replace Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams on station and Williams will return to Earth aboard Atlantis.
Image above: Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off on mission STS-117. Image credit: NASA