STS -135 (English Space Transportation System) (hence the Omega symbol in the mission emblem) is the name of the last mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle NASA. The implementation of additional recorded into the program mission has long been questionable.

The flight was carried out with the Space Shuttle Atlantis ( OV -104 ), the start of the three ten-day mission to the International Space Station was on July 8, 2011. 's Team only four people was the smallest since April 1983 ( STS -6). The multi-purpose logistics module Raffaello and a Lightweight Multi-Purpose were transported Carrier ( LMC).


The crew consisted of four people, so that when a problem case, no rescue mission was necessary. The astronauts would have been returned in an emergency Soyuz spacecraft to Earth.

NASA provided the crew of STS- 135 before September 14, 2010:

  • Christopher Ferguson ( third space flight), Commander
  • Douglas Hurley ( second space flight), Pilot
  • Sandra Magnus ( third space flight ), Mission Specialist
  • Rex Walheim ( third space flight), Mission Specialist.


On July 15, 2010 by a U.S. Senate committee drafted under the chairmanship of Senator Bill Nelson NASA budget bill for 2010, NASA instructed, (STS -135 ) to conduct another space shuttle mission, taking into account an assessment of the risks. So far, the draft budget of the House Science Committee for NASA still contained, however, no extra mission.

On 22 July 2010, the Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas initiated during a meeting of the Science and Technology Committee successfully a new NASA budget bill for 2010 to add an additional transport mission to current planning.

On August 5, 2010, the U.S. Senate passed shortly before the summer break, his version of a new NASA budget bill.

The Directorate of NASA had a formal mission planning approved on August 20, 2010, depending on the funding approval by Congress including June 28, 2011 as the planned start date for the time being.

With the support of both the House of Representatives and the Senate the authorization was issued in the fall of 2010 to allow STS -135 to go from a need to start a regular mission.

Intern for a long time, NASA was working on the preparation of the flight, but he did not appear until January 21, 2011 in the official start lists.

Mission overview

With the mission STS -135 (ISS - ULF5 ) supplies and spare parts have been brought to the ISS. Since the ISS program will be extended to 2020, the station needed more parts and supplies. A delivery of an appropriate supply is beneficial for the mission extension of the ISS. Were transported the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module ( MPLM ) Raffaello with inventories, supplies and spare parts, and a failed ammonia pump module back to Earth.

Originally a mission was scheduled between 18 and 26 November 2007, which was also known as STS -135. It should be the ISS assembly mission ISS -17A flown with a MPLM and an LMC would have been brought to the station. After the Columbia disaster of this flight was canceled. ISS -17A was then slightly modified with the mission STS -128 carried out.


After their last mission Atlantis was moved to the Orbiter Processing Facility on May 26, 2010. There were made the routine post-flight and work and she was prepared for their next mission.

End of March 2011 began the assembly of the solid rocket boosters. The solid rocket boosters are among the reusable components of the Space Shuttle. Thus, the top cylinder of the right auxiliary drive has already been used at the first Space Shuttle mission STS -1 in 1981.

The arrived in Florida in July 2010 external tank was mounted in the end of April 2011 the Vehicle Assembly Building ( VAB) between the solid rocket boosters. Mid-May 2011 was followed by the Space Shuttle Atlantis from its hangar to the VAB. On May 19, the assembly operations on the space shuttle to the external tank were completed. On the same day, NASA announced July 8 as intended start date for the mission.

On 1 July, the Space Shuttle with a special chain caterpillar, a crawler, driven to the pad 39 A. There, the launch preparations continued and load the payload into the Atlantis.

Mission History

Despite initially poor weather outlook, NASA decided to go for a launch attempt on July 8. 31 seconds before the scheduled start, there was an interruption in the countdown by the computer, it was unclear whether a boom of the starting tower was fully retracted. After 3 minutes, the countdown was continued and the Atlantis launched successfully.

Two days later, on July 10, the Atlantis docked to the ISS. The following day the Raffaello logistics module was unloaded from the payload bay of the shuttle and installed at Harmony. On July 12, a spacewalk by Mike Fossum and Ron Garan took place.

On 19 July, the Atlantis left the ISS. Previously, the Raffaello module was re- stowed in the payload bay of Atlantis. On flight day 14, July 21, 2011, which Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, marking the end of the shuttle era.

Emergency plans

Unlike other shuttle flights no more space shuttle for a possible rescue flight was available to them at this mission. In the event that an accident involving the Atlantis would have made a safe return to Earth impossible, the crew of STS -135 was provisionally remained on board the ISS and was returned with Soyuz spaceships to Earth over the next few months. For the selection of the Atlantis crew, this meant that they had to meet the more stringent requirements for Soyuz TMA- missions, so Sokol spacesuits and Soyuz - contour seats were custom made for them.

As a result, two Soyuz spaceships, each with one, and one with two free seats to the ISS would be started. The crew of STS- 135 would be with Soyuz TMA -21 ( Rex Walheim ), Soyuz TMA- 02M ( Christopher Ferguson ), Soyuz TMA- 03M (Sandra Magnus ) and Soyuz TMA- 04M ( Douglas Hurley ) returned to Earth, so that the full return of the crew would have lasted until June 2012.