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NASA: July 8 selected for space shuttle program's last blast

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Astronauts discuss final shuttle launch
  • Atlantis is to blast off at 11:26 a.m. on July 8
  • The 12-day mission will be the final flight for NASA's space shuttle program

(CNN) -- July 8 will mark the start of the final space shuttle mission and the end of an era, NASA announced Tuesday.

The U.S. space agency announced the date for the final flight of Atlantis following a flight readiness review at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. If nothing delays the countdown, the shuttle would depart at 11:26 a.m.

The 12-day mission will be the 135th and final flight of the space shuttle program.

Atlantis is scheduled to deliver spare parts and supplies to the International Space Station to help keep the orbital lab going, NASA said. It also will fly an experimental rig to test tools and techniques to robotically refuel satellites in space, according to the agency.

After the shuttle program is grounded, NASA plans to temporarily use Russian spacecraft to ferry NASA astronauts to the space station.