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Atlantis's final flight (PHOTOS)

Photographs from the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.

Atlantis's final flight (PHOTOS)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off Friday on its final mission and is now in orbit.

The launch was not deterred by the weather, even though the launch had originally been given only a 30 percent chance of going off as planned. The orbiter will bring a year's worth of supplies to the International Space Station, and will return after 12 days, bringing as much trash as possible from the station, according to the Chicago-Sun Times.

When Atlantis returns to Earth, the space shuttle will be retired, and NASA's current space shuttle program will end.

The possibility that NASA may not launch another shuttle for five years brought hundreds of thousands of spectators to the areas around the Kennedy Space Center.  

NASA now plans to leave routine space travel to private companies, and will rely on the Russian space program to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, reported the Los Angeles Times.