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NASA today gave the green light for what's likely to be the space shuttle Atlantis' last launch, opening the final chapter in the orbiter fleet's 29-year history. Atlantis' solid-fuel rockets are due to fire up for a final time at 2:20 p.m. ET on May 14. But mission managers say they're not letting that finality sink in fully just yet.
"There's this ability to stay focused and compartmentalize," Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations, told reporters today at the end of a flight readiness review for Atlantis' 12-day mission to the International Space Station.
"I have not spent a lot of time thinking about 'last this' or 'last that,'" said John Shannon, NASA's space shuttle program manager.