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Space Shuttle Atlantis to Blast off August 27


The U.S. space agency NASA has set August 27 as the date for the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.

The shuttle's mission will be the first of 16 flights aimed at completing construction on the International Space Station by 2010.

During the flight, six astronauts plan to conduct several spacewalks and install a second set of solar panels to help power the space station.

The launch will mark the second shuttle flight this year, and comes after the successful landing of the shuttle Discovery in July.

The safe return of Discovery marked a milestone for the U.S. space program, which has been plagued by safety concerns since the shuttle Columbia disintegrated in 2003.

Seven crewmembers died when the spacecraft fell apart on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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