The shuttle Atlantis left the Vehicle Assembly Building for what is likely to be the final time on the evening of May 31, 2011. Shown here she is about 40 minutes into her journey from the VAB to Pad 39-A. Pad 39-A the only surviving shuttle launch pad; 39-B is being torn down. Atlantis is scheduled to be launched no earlier than July 8, 2011.
Atlantis is on the right in the photograph, and her destination, Launch Pad 39-A, is tiny but visible at the left. The journey from VAB to Pad takes about six hours and was completed shortly after a different shuttle, the orbiter Eneavour, had landed at Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on runway 15 (SLF = runway) at 2:32 am June 1, 2011.
It was a big night at Kennedy Space Center, one of the biggest ever.
The media first watched Atlantis be rolled of the VAB starting at 8 pm.
By 2:32 am the media had moved over to the landing field, the Shuttle Landing Facility, to watch Atlantis’ sister ship, the Endeavour, return from space and land.
Then 4:30 am a press conference on the Endeavour mission was held.
At 6 am the media was back out at Pad 39-A to watch the sun rise over Atlantis.
During the evening on May 31, 2011, the four person crew of the final shuttle mission on Atlantis, designated STS-135, were at Kennedy holding a press conference outside the media press center at the Complex 39 Press Center using Atlantis on the way to the pad in the background.
By dawn, Kennedy public relations people, and the media, were exhausted.