Shuttle Atlantis Touches Down a Final Time

NASA hoping White House will relent, grant 1 more flight
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 26, 2010 8:20 AM CDT
Shuttle Atlantis Touches Down a Final Time
Space shuttle Atlantis glides by rescue vehicles before landing on Kennedy Space Center's runway 33 Wednesday, May 26, 2010 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.   (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Space shuttle Atlantis is back on Earth, and its flying career is over. Atlantis and its six-man crew landed at Florida's Kennedy Space Center this morning, marking the end of Atlantis' 25 years of service. Only two shuttle missions remain, by NASA's two other spaceships. The space agency would like Atlantis to return to the International Space Station next June, but that's not in the cards unless the White House grants a reprieve.

The space station construction mission boosted Atlantis' mileage to just over 120 million miles, accumulated over 32 flights. Atlantis—the fourth in NASA's shuttle series—is ending its run after having spent an accumulated 294 days in orbit and circled Earth 4,648 times. It's carried 189 astronauts and visited the International Space Station 11 times. Once Atlantis is back in its hangar, it will be prepped for a potential rescue mission for what's currently slated to be the final shuttle flight by Endeavour. (More Atlantis stories.)

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