Atlantis and its four astronaut crew are headed for a rendezvous with the International Space Station. The main goal of the shuttle's 12-day flight — Atlantis' 33rd mission after nearly 26 years of flying — is to deliver a year's worth of supplies and spare parts to the orbiting lab. The shuttle is scheduled to make its final trip to Earth on July 20. Future trips to the IST will rely on the Russian Space Program.
Since the first flight in 1981, shuttle missions have carried 355 different individuals from 16 different countries into low-Earth orbit, according to NASA officials. It is the end of an era for the USA, and NASA's focus has been turned away from returning to the Moon, to space probes to visit nearby asteroids, and eventually, a mission to Mars.