The space shuttle Atlantis is fueled and the astronauts are waiting to see if there will be a launch Friday. The weather could delay the final bast off of a shuttle. After 30 years, NASA is ending the program. NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce and Wade Goodwyn talk to Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne about the mission.
The space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Credit John Raoux / AP
Space shuttle Atlantis roared off the launch pad at Florida's Kennedy Space Center this morning, beginning a 12-day mission to the International Space Station that marks the end of NASA's 30-year-old shuttle program.
With hundreds of thousands of people looking on from highways, beaches and balconies along Florida's "Space Coast," and millions more watching on television or the Web, the shuttle and its crew of four lifted off after a morning of uncertainty about whether storms in the area might force a postponement.
Nolan Koewler was fired from a Dillard's department store in Evansville, Ind., after July 4, 2010. He'd taken two leftover hot dogs after a company picnic. After losing his job, Koewler sued. He said he didn't hear his boss's instructions to save them. Indiana's Court of Appeals has ordered the store to pay him unemployment benefits.
Just before word came that the scandal-ridden News of the World would fold, one final insult: a boycott. Fish and chips are traditionally wrapped in newspapers. And according to a satirical website, fish were refusing to be wrapped in the British tabloid.
In this undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service in Tokyo December 2009, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, left, looks at a bottle containing an alcoholic beverage as he visits a factory of the Rason Taehung Trading Company in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea.
Credit Korea Central News Agency / AP
Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Self-described "Space Junkie" Lloyd Behrendt was only 18 months old when his Dad took him to see the first rocket launch from Cape Canaveral in 1950. He's been to hundreds of launches since. Behrendt will be at the Kennedy Space Center for the final shuttle launch.
The top American diplomat in Afghanistan steps down this month. Renee Montagne speaks with the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, who has worked there over the last decade — first as an Army general and currently as ambassador.
The first space shuttle mission was launched on April 12, 1981.
In May, when the space shuttle Atlantis was moved to its launch pad, STS-135's flight engineer, Rex Walheim, got a bit emotional.
"That is the most graceful, beautiful vehicle we've had to fly in space, ever, and it's going to be a long time until you see a vehicle roll out to the pad that looks as beautiful as that," Walheim said. "How can you beat that? An airplane on the side of a rocket. It's absolutely stunning."