In what spanned 3 decades, it is constant reminder of how much our country has achieved in such a short amount of time.
I have lived through these 30 years, and the stories I will share with my nieces and nephews will be beyond measure. We have seen, happiness, we have seen tragedy, but through it all, we stuck together as one nation. God Bless the USA.
From the Associated Press:
"Let's light this fire one more time," Commander Christopher Ferguson said just before taking flight.
The shuttle was visible for 42 seconds before disappearing into the clouds.
It will be at least three years - possibly five or more - before astronauts are launched again from U.S. soil, and so this final journey of the shuttle era packed in crowds and roused emotions on a scale not seen since the Apollo moon shots. NASA has set of long-term goal of flying to an asteroid and eventually Mars.
"Take a deep breath. Enjoy a little time here with your families again. But we've got a lot of work to do. We've got another program that we've got to get under way," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the launch control team after Atlantis reached orbit. He added: "We know what we're doing. We know how to get there. We've just got to convince everybody else that we know what we're doing."