space camp

This is either the final crew to pilot the space shuttle Atlantis, or the cast of 1986 hit film Space Camp. NASA’s still checking.

What are you doing next Friday? If you’re even a tiny bit of a space nerd—and all the cool kids are—you’ll be watching the very last space shuttle launch ever. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to take off from Kennedy Space Center at 8:26am PDT, though shuttle launches are notorious for their delays.

To mark the occasion, the Museum of Flight will open early, at 8am. Live NASA TV will be showing on the big screen in the William M. Allen Theater, and admission is the usual $16 for adults. And yes, astronaut ice cream is part of a complete breakfast.

Shuttle trivia time! Did you know that…

…this is the 33rd space mission for Atlantis, and 135th shuttle mission overall?

…even though our Museum of Flight didn’t score one of the retired shuttles for display, it is the future home of a shuttle fuselage training simulator?

…Atlantis isn’t named for the fabled lost city; it’s after a two-masted research ship from the the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute? (Which itself was probably named for either the fabled sunken civilization or that one Stargate spinoff.)

…Central Florida is expecting a million people to head to Brevard County for the launch, leading to 50-mile traffic jams? Police there recommend that drivers bring full gas tanks and extra food and water, not to mention, uh, those astronaut diapers.

…during its 13 days in space, the craft will launch a satellite and add a module to the International Space Station? And it’ll do this dirty-sounding task: "Atlantis will perform a Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, a backflip to expose its underside for the station crew to photograph." Did you learn nothing from Rep. Weiner about exposed undersides, space shuttle?