STS-135, otherwise known as the Atlantis Shuttle, made its final landing early Thursday morning around 6:00am. It was a successful mission that ended on a sad note, because it signified the end of the space shuttle era, one that lasted more than 30 years. With that in mind, it's hard not to feel a sense of melancholy. Granted, we should be happy Atlantis made it back safely, but the landing also signifies a passing that will not soon be forgotten.
Over at NASA's YouTube page, they posted a 30-minute video of the Atlantis landing that's about as comprehensive as you can ask for. The video is embedded at the top of this post, but there are others worth sharing as well. Before that, however, we should take a moment and acknowledge the significance of Atlantis and the space shuttle program as a whole. Over at NASA's Space Shuttle site, they have quotes from the Atlantis crew, which helps frame the moment even more:
"Although we got to take the ride," said Commander Chris Ferguson on behalf of his crew, " we sure hope that everybody who has ever worked on, or touched, or looked at, or envied or admired a space shuttle was able to take just a little part of the journey with us."
"They have come to be known as the 'final four.' They did an absolutely incredible job," said [NASA Administrator Charles] Bolden. "They made us very proud."
The report also indicates a welcome home ceremony will be held on Friday, July 22 at Ellington Field. The ceremony will be open to the public.
As our way of acknowledging the crew of Atlantis, and its last flight, as well as the end of the space shuttle era, here are a few more videos of the landing, just in case you can't sit through the entire 30-minute video provided by NASA. It's WebProNews' way of saying thank you:
If you need a reminder of the finality of the space shuttle program, take a look at NASA's upcoming launch schedule, which includes 2012 launches as well. It's a few satellites and another Mars rover. Let's just hope NASA's incredible intellectual resources aren't being squandered while the US government continues to fight over money.