Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shuttle Atlantis' rocket boosters arrive at Port Canaveral

NASA's Liberty Star tows home Atlantis' booster today. (Atkeison)

The twin rocket boosters which launched NASA's final space shuttle mission were returned back to Cape Canaveral on Sunday.

As the first booster arrived at noon, it received a heroes welcome as a small fire boat pumped water up and out in a salute to the first arriving craft, Liberty Star.

Standing on a pier next to the captain's wife and over forty on lookers, applause broke out and waves to the crew as the Liberty Star broke the quietness of the ocean's waves.

NASA boats Liberty Star and Freedom Star towed the twin boosters from behind and across the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Waves and rain fall delayed retrieval efforts some 140 miles northeast of the Kennedy Space Center, off the coast of Jacksonville.

Each booster was then shifted to the side of the ship in which the booster had flown during launch. The Liberty Star carried the right hand booster on the ship's right or starboard side.

The 149-foot tall solid-fueled boosters produce a 700-foot golden flame, and carried Atlantis up to an altitude of 145,000 feet on July 8 before separating 125 seconds into the flight.

These were the final boosters to be towed in for years to come as the space shuttle program come to an end with this final flight.

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