\"Atlantis

Atlantis shuttle launch - the last in NASA 30-year program Photo by: AP

Atlantis space shuttle launch marks the end of NASA's 30-year program - VIDEO

\"Atlantis

Atlantis shuttle launch - the last in NASA 30-year program Photo by: AP

After the possibility of a delay due to bad weather the Atlantis space shuttle, with four astronauts on board, blasted off this afternoon at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The historic event was watched by an estimated one million spectators including 150 Irish Twitter users invited by NASA.

The launch, the last of the 30-year shuttle program, was delayed by just two minutes with the giant clock at the Kennedy Space Center stuck at 0.31. The delay was to verify that the launch pad support equipment was retracted all the way.

It will now be at least three years, possibly five or more, before astronauts launch from US soil. The Atlantis shuttle mission is the 135th mission to take place as part of the 30-year NASA program. The crew above the Atlantis will deliver a year's worth of critical supplies to the International Space Station and return with as much garbage from the Station as possible.

-----------------

READ MORE: 

Mark Kelly retires from NASA – plans to write memoir with Gabrielle Giffords

Mark Kelly and the Endeavour crew land for the final time- VIDEO

Miraculous Rep Gabrielle Giffords greeted by standing ovation at first public appearance

-----------------

It's estimated that tens of millions of people across the world watched the launch on TV. The shuttle was airborne and visible for 42 seconds before it disappeared into the clouds, according to Daily Mail reports.

Among the lucky people on the ground were 150 Twitter users from Ireland selected at random by NASA. Ruth McAvinia (@ruthie147), a journalist and broadcaster from Ireland, was among the guests.

She tweeted:

"All sorts of emotions round Kennedy Space Center right now. Historic day"

" i'm pretty much speechless (sic)"

"Time of life."

The crew onboard the Atlantis shuttle are Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus and Mission Specialist Rex Walheim. As the shuttle took off Mike Leinbach, the launch director said "For the final time, good luck, godspeed, and have a little fun up there"

After the launch of the final space shuttle, NASA Chief, Charles Bolden posted a video message saluting the final flight and offering some hope for the future of US spaceflight.

"Over three decades, the shuttle has brought this nation many firsts, and many, many proud moments," Bolden said, according to Fox News reports. "The shuttle pioneers have made the next chapter of human spaceflight possible."

"American ingenuity is alive and well, and it will fire up our economy -- and help us win the future." he added.

COMMENTS

Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:


Already have an account ?

For Newsletter Subscribers – Draw for 1 Prize on December 31st.

Prize: Your Piece of Ireland – a Square of Land in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, Ireland

More details here (or you can buy a little piece of Ireland directly): http://bit.ly/1zew9ox

Terms & Conditions

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.


Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: