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Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-135
Payload: Raffaello
Launch: July 8, 2011
Time: 11:29 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: July 21 @ 5:57 a.m. EDT
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility

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Obama calls space to praise shuttle and station crews
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: July 15, 2011


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President Barack Obama made a long distance call from the Oval Office to International Space Station Friday, congratulating the Atlantis astronauts and their station colleagues on the 135th and final space shuttle mission, vowing an "exciting new era" of post-shuttle exploration.

"Hello," the president called.

"Hello, this is International Space Station," shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson replied.

"Well, this is President Obama. Who am I talking to?"

"Hello Mr. President, you're talking to the increment 28 crew and the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis."

"Well, that's funny, see, because I was just dialing out for pizza, and I didn't expect to end up in space," Obama joked.

"Well, yes sir," Ferguson laughed, "it's really an honor and a privilege that you took some time out of your busy day to meet with us."

"Well, listen, it is wonderful to talk to you and I appreciate you guys taking out the time from your mission," the president said. "I always want to just let everybody know how personally proud I am of you and the amazing feats you guys are accomplishing in space. I was here in the Oval Office watching you guys take off last Friday, we're all watching as the 10 of you work together as a team to conduct spacewalks and manage experiments and all the things that are necessary to keep the space station humming.

"Your example, I think, means so much, not just to your fellow Americans, but also to your fellow citizens on Earth. The space program has always embodied our sense of adventure and exploration and courage as you guys work in a really harsh environment.

And I know there have been thousands who have poured their hearts and souls into America's space shuttle program over the last three decades that are following this journey with special interest. And to them and all the men and women of NASA, I want to say thank you. You've helped our country lead the space age and you continue to inspire us."

After chatting with Ferguson about commanding the final shuttle mission, Obama asked about a robotic refueling demonstration kit delivered to the station by the Atlantis astronauts and an American flag that flew aboard the shuttle Columbia during the program's first mission in 1981.

"Yes, Mr. President, we brought a flag that was flown on STS-1 and as part of a special presentation, or ceremony, before we undock, we'll present that to the space station crew and it hopefully will maintain a position of honor until the next vehicle launched fro U.S. soil brings U.S. astronauts up to dock with the space station," Ferguson said.

The Obama administration has ordered a dramatic change of course for NASA, calling for development of private-sector spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the space station and new NASA-operated vehicles for eventual deep space missions. Critics claim the lack of a firm timetable and defined targets will cripple the new program, but Obama told the astronauts NASA will be up to the challenge.

"While this mission marks the final flight of the space shuttle program, it also ushers in an exciting new era to push the frontiers of space exploration and human space flight," Obama told the astronauts. "Crew members like you will continue to operate the ISS in coming years and seek to use it to advance scientific research and technology development. I've tasked NASA with an ambitious new mission to develop the systems and kinds of space technologies that are going to be necessary to conduct exploration beyond Earth and ultimately sending humans to Mars, which is obviously no small feat -- but I know we're going to be up to the task.

"So, I just want to say how proud I am of all of you. Congratulations to NASA, to all our international partners and all the personnel past and present who've spent countless hours and untold effort making the space shuttle and International Space Station a unique part of our history. So accept my gratitude on this tremendous accomplishment and Godspeed as you guys return home next week."

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: FINAL SHUTTLE-ERA SPACEWALK CONCLUDES PLAY
VIDEO: PROTECTIVE COVER PUT ON VACANT DOCKING PORT PLAY
VIDEO: FIXING SNAGGED WIRE ON ZARYA GRAPPLE FIXTURE PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKER GOES SIGHT-SEEING HIGH ABOVE EARTH PLAY
VIDEO: SATELLITE SERVICING DEMONSTRATOR GIVEN TO DEXTRE PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOTIC REFUELING MISSION MOVED TO THE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALKERS SWAP POSITIONS ABOARD ROBOT ARM PLAY
VIDEO: PUMP STOWED IN ATLANTIS BAY FOR RETURN TO EARTH PLAY
VIDEO: STUNNING VIEWS OF ASTRONAUT RIDING ROBOT ARM PLAY
VIDEO: FAILED PUMP FREED FROM STORAGE BOX PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEWALK NO. 1 GETS UNDERWAY PLAY
VIDEO: STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: RAFFAELLO MODULE CONNECTED TO STATION PLAY
VIDEO: CARGO-DELIVERY MODULE UNBERTHED FROM ATLANTIS PLAY
VIDEO: ROBOT ARM GRAPPLES MODULE IN SHUTTLE BAY PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS CREW WELCOMED ABOARD STATION PLAY
VIDEO: DOCKING OF SHUTTLE TO STATION AS SEEN LIVE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ARCS OUT IN FRONT OF SPACE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS PERFORMS THE 360-DEGREE BACKFLIP PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY


VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS REEL PLAY
VIDEO: THE FULL STS-135 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ATLANTIS BLASTS OFF! PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GO INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE POST-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY

VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VAB ROOF PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD PERIMETER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD FRONT CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 070 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 071 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: WEST TOWER PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: COUNTDOWN PREVIEW AND WEATHER FORECAST BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE AT LAUNCH SITE PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS FERGUSON PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH DOUG HURLEY PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH SANDY MAGNUS PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH REX WALHEIM PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-135 MISSION OVERVIEW PRESENTATIONS PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: CREW CHATS WITH PRESS AT LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR PRACTICE COUNT PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: HEAR FROM ATLANTIS' CREW DURING ROLLOUT PLAY
VIDEO: ATLANTIS ARRIVES ATOP LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CROWDS WITNESS FINAL SHUTTLE ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ROLLOUT FROM VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: HOISTING ATLANTIS TO TANK AND SRBS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER GOES VERTICAL PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SLING CAPTURES ATLANTIS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ATLANTIS LEAVES PROCESSING HANGAR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER TRANSPORTER PICKS UP ATLANTIS PLAY | HI-DEF

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