Thursday, May 27, 2010

Space Shuttle Atlantis Finishes Final Flight

After 120 million miles, 25 years, 32 flights, 294 days in orbit 4,648 times circling the Earth, 189 astronaut passengers, 7 flights to Russia's Mir Station, 1 flight to the Hubble Space Telescope and 11 visits to the International Space Station, Atlantis, the fourth to fly in NASA's shuttle series, has finished its last flight.

While Atlantis might look old and worn out to the average eye, the trained eyes of NASA engineers believe the shuttle is still in its prime and could make at least one more flight. 

Twelve hundred guests stood by at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 26, 2010 to watch Atlantis gracefully touch down for the final time ending its 12-day journey to the space station.

Atlantis if the first of three shuttles going into retirement to eventually find homes in museums.  Discovery and Endeavour will be making one more flight each then they will join Atlantis in retirement.  Discovery is slated to fly in September and Endeavour in November.  Once the three shuttles have retired, the entire shuttle fleet will have retired.  Atlantis will be on stand-by as a rescue ship for the last shuttle flight then be moved to a museum.  It is possible Atlantis might be able to make one final supply run to the space station next summer provided no rescue mission is needed for Endeavour's flight.

By the end of June or July NASA officials should have decided which museum(s) Atlantis and Endeavour will eventually call home.  Discovery is headed to the Smithsonian Institution.

For more information:

USA Today Article Article

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