Space Shuttle Atlantis and four astronauts launched Friday on NASA's last space shuttle voyage. The shuttle lifted off at 11:29 a.m. for the 135th shuttle mission. The crowd of spectators was estimated at nearly 1 million.
At Stennis Space Center, Miss., which tested all the space shuttle main engines, visitors saw the launch on a large screen in the auditorium. More than 300 people were in attendance.
Atlantis' crew will deliver a year's worth of critical supplies to the International Space Station and return with as much trash as possible. The spaceship is scheduled to come home July 20 after 12 days in orbit.
Eglin Air Force Base's first two F-35 Joint Strike Fighters have completed test flights and are in their final review to be accepted by the Department of Defense. Representatives from Lockheed Martin said last month that the first F-35s would arrive in June.
They now say AF-8 and AF-9, the Florida base's first two JSFs, will "arrive shortly" but provided no time frame. Lockheed Martin is expected to deliver six F-35s to Eglin this fiscal year. The other four jets are in various stages of development, including some still on the production line. Lockheed Martin plans a ceremony for sometime in August after the first jets arrive.
Pre-engineering students at two high schools in Baldwin County, Ala., will get a chance to participate in a new aerospace curriculum this fall.
Baldwin County High School and Foley High School are among four schools in Alabama to offer courses as part of the "Preparation for Tomorrow" aerospace engineering pilot program. The Alabama Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education section and the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board last fall designed the aerospace curriculum to prepare high school students for aerospace technology and engineering careers.
Tidbits from other fields
Shipbuilding: The Austal USA-built USS Independence is one of the characters in the cartoon movie "Cars 2." In the movie, the unnamed ship character has just a few scenes. Early on it's seen guarding the villain's offshore oil platform lair and then chasing after one of the movie's heroes.
Command changes: Capt. Rick Burgess relieved Capt. Lou Cariello as commanding officer of the Naval Construction Battalion Center and 20th Seabee Readiness Group in Gulfport, Miss., during a ceremony Friday. Burgess leads more than 4,900 active duty personnel and more than 900 civilians permanently stationed at the Seabee base. … Capt. Paul Oosterling assumed command of the Naval Oceanographic Office during a ceremony Friday at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Oosterling replaced Capt. Brian Brown, who will transfer to Washington to serve as Executive Assistant to the Oceanographer of the Navy. NAVOCEANO supplies oceanographic products and services to all elements of the Department of Defense.