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Jul 08, 2011 at 09:00pm IST

NASA launches last space shuttle Atlantis

New Delhi: The United State's Space Shuttle programme ended on Friday with the launch of the last shuttle Atlantis. Atlantis will return to Earth two weeks later, to be mothballed forever.

The 12-day mission will be run by a 4-person crew. This is the smallest crew of any shuttle mission since the 6th shuttle flight that began on April 4, 1983.

Atlantis is carrying 15,000 pounds of clothing, food and equipment to International Space Station.

NASA launches last space shuttle Atlantis

The launch of Atlantis marks the end of the Space Shuttle programme of NASA.

US President Barack Obama has shut down the Space Shuttle programme, leaving 30,000 workers jobless.

Shuttles made space seem safe for humans. But 1986 and 2003 saw two blow ups in the air, killing fourteen of NASA's best brains, among whom was India born Kalpana Chawla.

Sunita Williams, also of Indian origin, flew aboard the shuttle Discovery in 2006. The shuttle brought together people from around the world to build the International Space Station.

It also launched the Hubble space telescope, that gazes back into the beginnings of our universe.