Image: Atlantis Lands, Ending Space Shuttle Era
The space shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center this morning, completing the program's 135th and final mission. The shuttle crew restocked the international space station as part of the mission. (AP Photo)

Atlantis Lands, Ending Space Shuttle Era

Thursday, 21 Jul 2011 01:21 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Atlantis is back on Earth, and the shuttle era is over.

Atlantis and its four astronauts glided through the twilight Thursday and landed in Florida shortly before sunrise.


Story continues below video.





Hundreds gathered near the runway to welcome Atlantis home — and to bid NASA's 30-year space shuttle program goodbye. Atlantis' successful space station restocking mission closed out the shuttle era.

This was a true homecoming for Atlantis. The next-to-youngest shuttle will remain at Kennedy Space Center and be put on display.

Atlantis, Cape Canaveral, Johnson
Johnson Space Center security officers lower the Atlantis mission flag at Johnson Space Center in Houston after the shuttle landed at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., today. (AP Photo)
NASA's next stop with astronauts will be an asteroid, then Mars. Private companies will take over trips to the International Space Station.

Atlantis zoomed back toward Earth on Thursday to make the very last landing of the 30-year program.

Atlantis' crew of four fired the braking rockets in the wee hours of the morning. That set them on a course toward an on-time touchdown just before dawn at 5:56 a.m., one last shuttle touchdown for the history books.

"The weather couldn't be better," Mission Control assured shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson.

NASA is ending its shuttle program with Atlantis' successful space station resupply mission. It is the 135th flight in shuttle history. This grand finale comes 50 years to the day that Gus Grissom became the second American in space, aboard Liberty Bell 7.

Hundreds were gathering at NASA's landing strip to welcome Atlantis home.

"Time to make our mamas proud," flight director Tony Ceccacci told his team in Houston's Mission Control. "Coming home, folks."

It was to be a true homecoming for Atlantis, which first soared in 1985. The next-to-youngest in NASA's fleet will remain at Kennedy Space Center as a museum display.

Atlantis — the last of NASA's three surviving shuttles to retire — performed admirably during the 13-day flight.

It dropped off a full year's worth of food and other supplies at the International Space Station, just in case upcoming deliveries get delayed.

The space station's international partners — Russia, Europe and Japan — will continue to carry up cargo loads. And Russia will keep launching American astronauts to the orbiting lab until private industry is ready to fly people up in three to five years.

Several private companies are vying for the cargo runs and astronaut ferry flights. The front-runner hopes to make its first shipment of supplies by the end of this year.

A U.S. flag that flew on the first shuttle flight in 1981 and returned to orbit aboard Atlantis, is now at the space station. The first company to get astronauts there will claim the flag as a prize.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Arkansas Gun Range Is 'Muslim-Free Zone'

Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 23:01 PM

The owner of an Arkansas gun range has banned Muslims from visiting her facility.
 . . .

John Boehner: 'Very Few' Republicans Will Oppose Me

Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 22:18 PM

House Speaker John Boehner says he isn't worried about a conservative revolt that could oust him from his leadership pos . . .

White House: Secret Service Chief Won't Resign or Be Fired

Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 22:20 PM

Amid the furor over a knife-wielding assailant who made it over the White House fence and into the president's residence . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved