With the launch of Atlantis on NASA's final space shuttle mission, President Barack Obama says a proud country watched as "America reached for the heavens once more."
Obama congratulated the Atlantis astronauts and space workers on what he called a "picture-perfect launch" Friday from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
President George W. Bush announced the retirement of the shuttle and put NASA on a course back to the moon. But Obama canceled that in favor of trips to an asteroid and Mars.
Obama says he knows NASA is up to the challenge of sending Americans to Mars and he plans to be around to see it.