Lifestyle & Belief

Atlantis' Final Journey: End of A Space Legacy (PHOTOS)


Space shuttle Atlantis blasts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center July 8, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This lift off is the last in the 30-year-old shuttle program.


Chip Somodevilla

The space shuttle Atlantis touched down safely on a Florida runway Thursday, returning from its final 12-day mission to the International Space Station.

The orbiter brought a year's worth of supplies to the International Space Station, and returned with as much trash as possible from the station, according to the Chicago-Sun Times.

During the mission, Flight Engineers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan worked for six hours and 31 minutes outside the shuttle with the Earth spinning below them and the International Space Station docked alongside, NASA said.

Atlantis's return to Earth marks the end of NASA's current space shuttle program and the space shuttle will be retired.

The possibility that NASA may not launch another shuttle for five years brought hundreds of thousands of spectators to the areas around the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA now plans to leave routine space travel to private companies, and will rely on the Russian space program to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, reported the Los Angeles Times.