While an estimated 750,000 people gathered to witness the 33rd and final launch of Atlantis Friday, July 8, 2011 at Cape Canaveral there were hundreds that crowded themselves together at Ponce Jetty, Ponce Inlet, Florida only to captured a brief glimpse of the shuttle as it launched into space due to high clouds.
It is reported that some time before the launch lightning struck a water tower just 500 ft., from the launch pad. After technicians assessed the area looking for possible damage, officials convened and concluded that since there was no damage to the shuttle that the launch would take place as scheduled. This was Atlantis’ 33rd and final flight. Following it’s 12 days in space it will return to Kennedy Space Center where it will become a permanent display.
Atlantis astronauts, from left, mission specialist Sandra Magnus, pilot Doug Hurley, commander Chris Ferguson and mission specialist Rex Walhelm leave the operations and check up building enroute to the pad for at the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Atlantis is the 135th and final space shuttle launch for NASA. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)