NASA Targets July 8 for Last Shuttle Launch

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NASA is targeting the final launch of the space shuttle program for July 8, the U.S. space agency announced May 20.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is slated to carry four veteran astronauts to the international space station to deliver supplies and spare parts for the orbiting outpost. NASA is targeting an 11:40 a.m. liftoff from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

The target launch date for Atlantis’ 12-day mission is based on NASA’s current planning. An official launch date will be announced following a June 28 flight readiness review.

During the final shuttle flight, designated STS-135, Atlantis will deliver hardware built by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to demonstrate the tools and technologies needed to refuel satellites in orbit.

The astronaut crew also will retrieve an ammonia pump that failed on the space station in July 2010. Engineers want to understand why the pump failed and hope to use the knowledge to improve future designs.