I reported last month that NASA had decided that instead of originally retiring the space shuttle Atlantis in 2008, they changed their decision so it would retire in 2010 to ease the hectic burden off of Endeavour and Discovery. But NASA has made a complete U-Turn and in a recent manifest, have said that Atlantis will now retire in 2008.
Atlantis's last two mission will be STS-122, to add the Columbus Laboratory to the ISS and STS-125 will be a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Rumors (let me stress rumors) suggest that this early retirement was so that NASA doesn't have to pay the workers of the United Space Alliance who help to maintain the shuttle and many other tasks. The money saved by the reduced labor costs would most likely be put forth for the Constellation Space Program. This rumor is suggest by many sources because there is a lack of a better reason for this early retirement.
Because Atlantis will be retired two years before its counterparts, Discovery and Endeavour, Atlantis will most likely stripped down for spare parts.
Image Credit: NASA