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That was pretty sweet," Mission Control radioed after Atlantis glided through a clear morning sky and rolled down the runway. "That was a suiting end to an incredible mission."
Commander Kenneth Ham said he was ready to turn the shuttle over to the ground teams and get Atlantis "back in the barn for a little bit."
About 1,200 guests lined the Kennedy Space Center runway to welcome Atlantis and its crew home, the maximum allowable crowd. The lead flight directors for the space-station construction mission came in from Houston for the event. Space-center employees wore white ribbons with the name "Atlantis" and its picture embossed in gold. "The legacy of Atlantis now in the history books," Mission Control's commentator announced at touchdown. This was Atlantis's 32nd journey; the shuttle logged its 120-millionth mile shortly after midnight.
Only two shuttle missions remain, by NASA's two other spaceships. NASA is pushing for one more flight for Atlantis, which would need White House approval.
Atlantis—the fourth in NASA's shuttle series—is ending its run after having spent an accumulated 294 days in orbit and circling the Earth 4,648 times. It's carried 189 astronauts and visited the International Space Station 11 times. It also flew seven times to Russia's old Mir station and once to the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttle added another 4.8 million miles this time around.
NASA would like to fly Atlantis again in June 2011, provided no rescue mission is needed for Endeavour's flight. It would be one last supply run with a four-person crew that could camp out at the space station in the event of serious shuttle damage and return to Earth in Russian Soyuz capsules.
Originally posted by anon72
reply to post by Maslo
Do you really think we will go back to the older ideas of lift offs? I was hoping they had something up their sleeves that things would go easier and more cost effective.
We shall see.