After a 13-day mission to the International Space Station, the space shuttle Atlantis made a perfect landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
STS-135 – with four astronauts on board – was the final mission in NASA’s 30-year shuttle program.
At Cape Canaveral 2,000 workers, journalists and VIPs waited by the runway at daybreak to cheer the final shuttle landing.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
[Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator]:
“I personally want to salute them and everybody who has been involved in this program. It’s been a 30-year journey that has been absolutely incredible. And I want to say that all of us stand on the shoulders of some pretty giants. None any better than this. They have come to be known as the ‘Final Four’ and they did an absolutely incredible job. If you had an opportunity to watch any time during the mission, they were like race horses the whole time. So they made us very proud.”
With a gaggle of international journalists watching, Commander Chris Ferguson thanked the thousands of workers involved in the program and said he hoped the Shuttle would inspire a new generation of space explorers.
[Chris Ferguson, STS-135 Commander]:
“We are going to put Atlantis in a museum now along with the other three orbiters for generations that will come after us to admire and appreciate and hopefully, I want that picture of a young, six-year-old boy looking up at a space shuttle in a museum and say, ‘Daddy, I want to do something like that when I grow up,’ or ‘I want our country to do fantastic things like this for the continued future.’ And, if we set those steps right now and they continue with that next generation of space explorers then I consider our job here complete.”
Now that the Space Shuttle program is officially over, Russia will take on the job of flying American crews to the International Space Station, at a cost of more than $50 million per person.