ATLANTIS

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After lift-off, the solid rocket boosters attached to the sides of the large, reddish, external fuel tank continue to burn for approximately 2 minutes. When their fuel is spent, they separate from the tank, fall back into the sea, and are retrieved for re-use on subsequent Shuttle missions. The Shuttle's three main engines continue to fire, using half a million gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Between 8 and 9 minutes into the flight Earth orbit is achieved, the external tank is cast away, and the astronauts use small maneuvering engines to ease the Shuttle into its final orbit.

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Atlantis out-the-window view showing a Soyuz spacecraft docked with Mir

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