NASA's Atlantis blasts off into history


photoThe space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Atlantis is the 135th and final space shuttle launch for NASA.


photoSpectators watch the final launch of space shuttle Atlantis in Titusville, Fla., Friday, July 8, 2011. Four astronauts are taking space shuttle Atlantis for one last ride, the very last one of the 30-year space shuttle era.


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Atlantis has blasted off on NASA's last space shuttle launch.

The historic liftoff occurred Friday morning, 30 years and three months after the very first shuttle flight.

Four astronauts are riding Atlantis to orbit. The shuttle is bound for the International Space Station, making one final supply run.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators jammed Cape Canaveral and surrounding towns for the farewell. Kennedy Space Center itself was packed with shuttle workers, astronauts and 45,000 invited guests, the maximum allowed.

The flight will last 12 days. Weather permitting, Atlantis will return to Kennedy, where it will end up on permanent display.