A: Nancy from Greenfield asked, "why is the Atlantis going to be NASA's last launch?
Despite weather concerns, the shuttle Atlantis lifted off on a 12 day mission to the International Space Station the morning of July 8th, 2011. It's NASA's 135th and final mission.
The shuttle's demise was set in motion by President George W. Bush in 2004, and Obama's plan to re-tool NASA's mission kept the decision in effect. The president directed NASA to focus on developing rocket systems that might eventually take humans into deep space, while relying on private companies to build spacecrafts for astronauts -- and potentially tourists.
Plus, several news sources report that the shuttles are aging and expensive.