The mission assigned to space shuttle Atlantis for its outer space debut received the highest security classification from the United States Department of Defense. Shuttle commander Karol Bobko and pilot Ronald Grabe flew mission specialists David Hilmers, Robert Stewart and William Pailes on one of the shorter shuttle flights, lasting just over four days. Like the other orbiters in America's space fleet, Atlantis bears the name of a pioneering sea vessel that established new frontiers in research and exploration. Atlantis was named in honor of the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966. This two-masted sailing ship was the first American vessel to be used for oceanographic research and contained two onboard laboratories. The ship studied water samples, currents and marine life while using the first electronic sounding devices to map the ocean floor. The shuttle Atlantis carries the spirit of this famous sailing ship into space.
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