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Thu 19 May 2011 01:14 PM

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US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch

The space shuttle programme ends with a mission known as 'STS-135' scheduled for early July

US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch
NASA space shuttle Atlantis is prepared to be raised vertically on the Vehicle Assembly Building floor at the Kennedy Space Center on May 18, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Florida (Getty Images)
US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch
The space shuttle program ends with Atlantis mission STS-135 scheduled for early July. Space shuttle Atlantis will carry the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station (Getty Images)
US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch
Atlantis also will fly a system to investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing spacecraft and return a failed ammonia pump module (Getty Images)
US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch
NASA space shuttle Atlantis is prepared to be raised vertically on the Vehicle Assembly Building floor at the Kennedy Space Center on May 18, 2011 (Getty Images)
US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch
Boeing employees Rick Koger (left) and Brian To (cq) infront of wall bearing the names of shuttle contractors from the past two years as NASA space shuttle Atlantis is prepared on the Vehicle Assembly Building floor at the Kennedy Space Center on May 18, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Florida (Getty Images)
US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch
NASA space shuttle Atlantis is prepared to be raised vertically on the Vehicle Assembly Building floor at the Kennedy Space Center (Getty Images)
US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch
NASA contractors pose for a photograph with the Space Shuttle Atlantis in the Vehicle Assembly Building May 18, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The space shuttle program ends with Atlantis mission STS-135, scheduled for July. (Getty Images)
US shuttle Atlantis prepares for its final launch
Space Shuttle Atlantis is lifted vertically so that it can be attached to the External Fuel Tank in the Vehicle Assembly Building on May 18, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The space shuttle program ends with Atlantis mission STS-135, scheduled for July (Getty Images)