Atlantis' Impossible Take Off On NASA's 747 Mothership

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I've seen the shuttle pulling a Moonraker with NASA's modified 747 mothership before—like in this spectacular zenithal shot of Endeavour—but it never ceases to amaze me to see the two of them taking off.

This is Atlantis returning home from California after mission STS-125—the riskiest ever—where astronauts played Katamari Damacy, fixed Hubble, and made astronomers and space aficionados everywhere smile again.


It just seems impossible that the 747 can lift that gigantic spacecraft. The trip from Edwards Air Force Base back to Florida will require several stopovers for refueling, taking at least two days of rain-free weather travel to reach its final destination.