US space shuttle leaves Earth on final flight


Space shuttle Atlantis thundered off its seaside launch pad on Friday, rising atop a tower of smoke and flames as it left Earth on the final flight of the US space shuttle program. About 1 million sightseers lined causeways and beaches around the Kennedy Space Center in central Florida, angling for a last glimpse of the iconic ship that has defined the US space program for the last 30 years.
They were nearly disappointed, as cloudy skies and nearby rain threatened to delay Atlantis’ launch on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.
Skies cleared in time for liftoff, which was delayed for about three minutes by a last-minute technical glitch.