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STS-135: The Final Mission of Atlantis

The final launch of the Atlantis orbiter and the final mission of the space shuttle program took place on 8 July 2011 at 11:26 a.m. Through the efforts of Congressman John Mica, our family was able to view the launch from the NASA Causeway at the Kennedy Space Center about 6 miles from launchpad 39A.

As Congressional invitees, we were transported to the viewing site by bus from the Merritt Square Mall parking lot. While waiting for our bus to depart, one of the many astronauts assigned to speak with visitors that day, Astronaut Douglas Wheelock boarded the bus and talked with us for several minutes about what the Shuttle Program meant to him, contrasting the Shuttle to the Russian Soyuz.

Astronaut Wheelock shared his thoughts on the loss of the Shuttle having launched and landed in the Russian Soyuz. He compared landing in the orbiter to returning to earth in a stretched limo, while landing in the Soyuz to being stuffed into a barrel, lighted on fire and tossed over Niagra Falls.

Over the years, our family viewed many shuttle launches from the NASA Causeway having requested and received PA-Passes from NASA. The PA (Public Access) Pass permitted individuals to drive onto the Kennedy Space Center property in their private vehicles, park along the causeway and view the launches. NASA provided portable restrooms, food and souvenir concessions, and audio of Mission Control, Launch Control and the Shuttle Commander.

I attended 37 launches including STS-135 but that doesn’t mean I have been on the Causeway viewing the Shuttle through binoculars only 37 times! Remember – the shuttle did not always launch on the first try!

This is the letter I wrote to thank Congressman Mica and his staff and the staff in the NASA Headquarters
Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.

“Our family just wanted to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the
opportunity to see the last launch of Atlantis. Astronaut Wheelock came on our bus
before leaving the parking lot and spoke with us which was amazing! I have been
a fan and supporter of the space program since I was a very little girl. I would
get permission to bring my huge black and white TV to class so “my schoolmates”
– (so I) could see the launches of Gemini and Apollo live instead of waiting for the CBS
evening news with Walter Cronkite for the film. I was 14 years old when
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and can tell you where I was and who was with
me around the TV set.

I am disheartened and saddened that we now must rely on Russia for access to the
ISS (International Space Station). The orbiter is the most graceful spacecraft I have
ever seen. It appears like a radiant angel when it is attached to the liquid fuel tank
and SRBs (Solid Rocket Boosters) on the lanch pad bathed in Xenon lights.

I visited the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) in 1976 before the shuttle program and
it was a heartbreaking experience. It was an empty shell with a giftshop. We can not traffic
in space memories and trinkets. The United States in some fashion must be a leader in
in the exploration of space and, therefore, benefit from the patents and copyrights on
technology created when we lead.

Kim Marie Peters and Family”

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ATTACHMENTS

STS-135 Guest Pass Bus 6

Pass to board Bus 6 for Congressional invitees to see the final launch of Atlantis 8 July 2011 at 11:26 a.m. -...

STS-135 Congressional Invitation

This is the Congressional invitation sent to the Peters Family through Congressman John Mica for the final launch of Atlantis on 8...

STS-135 Congressional Invitation FAQs - Page 1

FAQs sent to Peters Family with Congressional Invitation to see the final launch of Atlantis (STS-135) on 8 July 2011 at 11:26...

STS-135 Congressional Invitation FAQs - Page 2

FAQs sent to Peters Family with Congressional Invitation to see the final launch of Atlantis (STS-135) on 8 July 2011 at 11:26...

Launch Guest Pin STS-135

Pin given to Congressional launch guests - the Peters Family - for the final mission of Atlantis on 8 July 2011 at...

STS-135 Safety Statement

Safety Statement sent to Peters Family through Congressman John Mica with the Congressional Invitation to the final launch of Atlantis STS-135 on...

Crew Photo STS-135

STS-135 crew photo given to Congressional invitees - the Peters family - at the final launch of Atlantis 8 July 2011 at...

STS-135 Crew Bios

Biographical data on the crew of STS-135 given to Congressional invitees - the Peters family - at the final launch of Atlantis 8...

STS-135 Mission Insignia

Mission insignia stickers presented to the Peters Family, Congressional invitees to the final launch of Atlantis on 8 July 2011 at 11:26...

VAB - Vehicle Assembly Building

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We watched the...

STS 135 - Astronaut Wheelock

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We were transported...

STS 135 - On the bus

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbiter Atlantis. We were transported...

STS 135 - On the bus

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbiter Atlantis. We were transported...

STS 135 - Entering the Base

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We were transported...

STS 135 - On the Causeway

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We were transported...

STS 135 - VAB and 39A in background

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We were transported...

STS 135 - Waiting for Launch

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We were transported...

STS 135 - Waiting for Launch

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We were transported...

STS 135 - Security

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We viewed the...

STS 135 - Ignition

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We viewed the...

STS 135 - Lift Off!

My family (Oliver Peters, Ashley Peters, and Kim Peters)  were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle...

STS - Clearing the Pad

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We watched the...

STS 135 - Soaring

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We viewed the...

STS 135 - In the Clouds

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We watched the...

STS 135 - Go at Throttle Up

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We watched the...

STS 135 - Flume

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We watched the...

STS 135 - Finale

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We watched the...

STS 135 - Atlantis on 39A

My family were guests of Representative John Mica for the final launch of the space shuttle with orbitor Atlantis. We watched the...

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Atlantis STS-135 Mission Summary

This is the NASA Mission Summary for STS-135 - the final launch of Atlantis scheduled for 11:26 a.m. 8 July 2011.

 


STS-135 Atlantis Launch Itinerary

Launch Itinerary sent to the Peters Family - Congressional invitees to the final mission of Atlantis 8 July 2011 at 11:26 a.m.


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