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Space Shuttle Atlantis Lifts Off

The U.S. space shuttle Atlantis is on its way to the International Space Station.

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The shuttle and its six-member crew successfully lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in the southern state of Florida Monday.

Despite partially cloudy skies earlier in the day, the weather remained clear for take-off.

The U.S. Space Agency NASA says Atlantis is carrying more than 13 tons of spare parts for the International Space Station, including equipment for the station's robotic arm.

Three spacewalks are scheduled during the 11-day space outing, which is NASA's last shuttle mission of the year. The crew will be at the station for a little over a week and will bring back astronaut Nicole Stott who has spent three months on the orbiter.

To coincide with the liftoff of Atlantis, NASA hosted a gathering at the Kennedy Space Center for 100 of its followers on the social-networking Web site Twitter. The event was labeled a "tweet-up," a play on "tweets" - the term for messages sent over the site.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.