Take a ride on the external tank as Atlantis slips the surly bonds of earth one final time. Atlantis lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center right on time at 2:20 pm EDT, rising into a picture-perfect Florida sky and capping a relatively problem-free countdown. "Launch was just phenomenal," said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier during a postlaunch news conference. He cited the launch and processing teams' hard work in preparing Atlantis for liftoff, even with a tighter timeframe after the vehicle's rollout to Launch Pad 39A was delayed in late April due to weather. "The teams stayed focused, they kept moving forward and they just did a great job," Gerstenmaier added. "The vehicle looks like it's in really good shape. We're ready to go do the very challenging mission in front of us." Atlantis' on-time liftoff followed a countdown remarkably free of problems. A small stress fracture spotted on an umbilical strut during the vehicle's final inspection is not unusual, according to Mike Moses, chair of the prelaunch Mission Management Team. Moses also mentioned an issue that was brought up during the countdown's final hold, concerning a ball bearing found days earlier in the shuttle's payload bay. The bearing was determined to likely be a part of a camera system, and was ultimately ruled out as a concern. And although weather is a frequent prelaunch topic at the Florida launch site, the day started out with a 70 percent "go" forecast, which ...