Space Shuttle Atlantis landing concludes program

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Space Shuttle Atlantis has completed its last journey with a landing at Kennedy Space Center, located in Florida, United States. Two thousand employees, including employees, families and friends, witnessed the landing of Atlantis at 0557 EDT (0957 UTC) yesterday. This landing has brought mission STS-135 to a close, as well as the Space Shuttle program from NASA. The program, which experienced a total of one hundred and thirty-five missions, had been in operation for thirty years, since 1981.

During the landing, Christopher Ferguson, the flight's commander, commented that "[t]he space shuttle changed the way we view the world and it changed the way we view the universe". Citing "a lot of emotion" in relation to this landing, Ferguson clarified that "one thing's indisputable: America's not going to stop exploring".

Amongst the aftermath of the landing, NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. produced a speech while standing in front of the spacecraft and its crew and spoke of "the rare opportunity to witness history". Atlantis launched for the final time on July 8 this year. Bolden commented: "This final shuttle flight marks the end of an era, but today we recommit ourselves to continuing human spaceflight and taking the necessary and difficult steps to ensure America's leadership in human spaceflight for years to come."

The United States government gave the order to abandon the program, partially attributing their cancellation to the expense of vehicle maintenance. Due to the program's conclusion, in excess of three thousand space shuttle operation contributions are now anticipated to lose their occupations. Bolden spoke of how grateful NASA were to the "thousands, literally tens of thousands, of folks all around the country who made all this possible". There is now no way for individuals to travel into space from the United States. To do this, NASA will utilise the services of the Russian spacecraft Soyuz.

STS-135 making its final landing at Kennedy Space Center. Image: NASA / Frank Michaux.
STS-135 making its final landing at Kennedy Space Center.
Image: NASA / Frank Michaux.
An alternate view of the landing, captured from behind the craft. Image: NASA / Kim Shiflett.
An alternate view of the landing, captured from behind the craft.
Image: NASA / Kim Shiflett.
Space Shuttle Atlantis after completing its landing. Image: NASA / Kim Shiflett.
Space Shuttle Atlantis after completing its landing.
Image: NASA / Kim Shiflett.
Amongst the aftermath of the landing, the crew of STS-135 stand alongside NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. as he makes a speech. Image: NASA / Kim Shiflett.
Amongst the aftermath of the landing, the crew of STS-135 stand alongside NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. as he makes a speech.
Image: NASA / Kim Shiflett.
Space Shuttle Atlantis making its reentry towards the planet Earth. Image: NASA.
Space Shuttle Atlantis making its reentry towards the planet Earth.
Image: NASA.
Official photo of STS-135 crew members, taken in February 2011. From left to right: Rex Walheim, Doug Hurley, Chris Ferguson, Sandy Magnus. Image: NASA / Robert Markowitz.
Official photo of STS-135 crew members, taken in February 2011. From left to right: Rex Walheim, Doug Hurley, Chris Ferguson, Sandy Magnus.
Image: NASA / Robert Markowitz.
File photo of Christopher Ferguson, commander of STS-135. Image: NASA / Bill Stafford.
File photo of Christopher Ferguson, commander of STS-135.
Image: NASA / Bill Stafford.
Pilot Douglas Hurley on February 11, 2011. Image: NASA / Bill Stafford.
Pilot Douglas Hurley on February 11, 2011.
Image: NASA / Bill Stafford.
Mission specialist Sandra Magnus, on February 11, 2011. Image: NASA / Bill Stafford.
Mission specialist Sandra Magnus, on February 11, 2011.
Image: NASA / Bill Stafford.
Rex Joseph Walheim, seen here on February 11, 2011, was also a mission specialist on STS-135. Image: NASA / Bill Stafford.
Rex Joseph Walheim, seen here on February 11, 2011, was also a mission specialist on STS-135.
Image: NASA / Bill Stafford.
Patch for STS-135, the last space shuttle mission. Image: NASA.
Patch for STS-135, the last space shuttle mission.
Image: NASA.
Space Shuttle Program patch. Image: NASA.
Space Shuttle Program patch.
Image: NASA.
Current NASA logo. Image: US Government.
Current NASA logo.
Image: US Government.
The Obama family being shown around Atlantis by Janet L. Kavandi on April 29, 2011. Image: NASA / Bill Ingalls.
The Obama family being shown around Atlantis by Janet L. Kavandi on April 29, 2011.
Image: NASA / Bill Ingalls.
Atlantis at Orbiter Processing Facility-1, before its final scheduled moving to KSC on May 17, 2011. Image: NASA / Jack Pfaller.
Atlantis at Orbiter Processing Facility-1, before its final scheduled moving to KSC on May 17, 2011.
Image: NASA / Jack Pfaller.
Atlantis launching from KSC on July 8, 2011. Image: Bill Ingalls.
Atlantis launching from KSC on July 8, 2011.
Image: Bill Ingalls.
File photo of NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. Image: NASA / Bill Ingalls.
File photo of NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Image: NASA / Bill Ingalls.



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