Here at CNET, we're big fans of things that go zoom through the skies. It doesn't much matter whether the flying machine hovers close to the earth, soars across the stratosphere, or heads off in the farther reaches of space, we'll always stop to gaze and to reflect upon the marvel, even after all these years, of breaking away from the embrace of Mother Earth. So without further ado, we give you a look back at some of the most significant aerospace events and accomplishments of 2011.
After 30 years and 135 missions, NASA put an end to its space shuttle program with the final mission of the Atlantis, seen here landing in Florida on July 21. "Having fired the imagination of a generation, a ship like no other, it's place in history secured, the space shuttle pulls into port for the last time, its voyage at an end," mission control commentator Rob Navias said on that occasion.
Like many shuttle missions before it--Discovery and Endeavour also recorded their final missions this year--this flight of the Atlantis ferried supplies to the International Space Station. Over the decades, the five shuttles in NASA's fleet took more than 3.5 million pounds of cargo into orbit, ranging from humble provisions to the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttles remain the only reusable manned spacecraft ever built.