Atlantis takes off for final flight to space station

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Washington, May 15 (ANI): NASA's space shuttle Atlantis took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying six astronauts, for its final voyage to the International Space Station on Friday.

The mission will deliver cargo, critical spare parts and a Russian laboratory to the station.

The launch, the third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, was the last one planned for Atlantis.

The shuttle's cargo bay has the Russian-built Mini Research Module-1, which is also known as Rassvet (dawn in Russian).

It will provide additional storage space and a new docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.

The laboratory will be attached to the bottom port of the station's Zarya module.

Commander Ken Ham is joined on the STS-132 mission by Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Steve Bowen, and Piers Sellers, all veteran space fliers.

Good and Sellers rode Atlantis into orbit on their first space missions in 2009 and 2002, respectively.

The shuttle crew is scheduled to dock to the station at 10:27 a.m. EDT on Sunday, May 16.

The mission's three spacewalks will focus on storing spare components outside the station, including six batteries, a communications antenna and parts for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm.

After completing the 12-day STS-132 mission, the shuttle's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 8:44 a.m. on Wednesday, May 26.

STS-132 is the 132nd shuttle flight, the 32nd flight for Atlantis and the 34th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

NASA's Web coverage of STS-132 includes mission information, a press kit, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos. (ANI)

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