Touching down on the Shuttle Landing Facility's Runway 15 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:57 a.m. this morning, the Space Shuttle Atlantis brought to an end an era of 30 years of manned space exploration.
A rear view of Shuttle Atlantis touching down after 200 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,284,862 miles.
On board were STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim. On the 37th shuttle mission to the ISS, STS-135 delivered more than 9,400 pounds of spare parts, equipment, and supplies in the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module, which will sustain station operations for the next year.
STS-135 was the 33rd and final flight for Atlantis, which has spent 307 days in space, orbited Earth 4,848 times, and traveled a total of 125,935,769 miles.
This stunning view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis as it reenters Earth's atmosphere early this morning, returning home for the final time, was photographed by the Expedition 28 crew currently aboard the International Space Station. Airglow over Earth can be seen in the background.
Atlantis, with its Orbital Boom Sensor System robot arm extension in the center, is seen here with the greenish glow of the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, in the background. One of the station's solar array panels is visible in the upper left.
This image, taken from Atlantis' crew cabin, focuses on the shuttle's docking mechanism. The Orbiter Boom Sensor System and a portion of the remote manipulator system's robot arm are visible in the frame, shown during the third day of the STS-135 mission, shortly before the shuttle docked with the International Space Station.