The final space shuttle launch

"LIFTOFF! The final liftoff of Atlantis! On the shoulders of the space shuttle, America will continue the dream." - NASA countdown commentator George Diller

"Houston now controlling the flight of Atlantis. The space shuttle spreads its wings one final time for the start of a sentimental journey into history." - NASA launch commentator Rob Navias

On July 8, 2011, the shuttle Atlantis thundered into history on the 135th and final launch of America's Space Transportation System after 31 years of service.

Relive launch day with this collection of NASA images.

See our coverage from Atlantis' final mission.

Photo credit: NASA

Commentator George Diller

Launch director Mike Leinbach

The jettisoned external fuel tank

Commander Chris Ferguson on the flight deck

Pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialist Rex Walheim on the middeck

Expedition 29 Patch
Space models