The Atlantis space shuttle launched this morning, making its final journey into space after a 30-year legacy.

Thousands of spectators gathered around Cape Canveral as the shuttle took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Atlantis carried a four-person crew, who are on a 12-day mission to restock the International Space Station with spare parts and provisions.

Today marked the 135th and final launch for the US space shuttle program.

"For the final time, good luck, godspeed, and have a little fun up there," launch director Mike Leinbach told the space shuttle crew before lift off.

The launch was a success amidst concerns about the weather conditions, which had only a 30% chance of favourable conditions earlier this morning.

Yesterday, the area was plagued by rain and two lightning strikes hit near the launch pads. However, no damage was done to the shuttle.

The mood was bittersweet amongst workers, as NASA has become downsized and thousands are expected to lose their jobs in the upcoming months.

"It is a sad time," said NASA astronaut Terry Virts said "The sad part about it is that we won't have an American ability to launch astronauts anymore."