Welcome Home, Atlantis

Today marks the end of an era. Three decades of missions came to a close this morning as the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down in Florida after a 13-day trip to the International Space Station. All told, the 135 space shuttle missions have racked up more than 542 million miles in low earth orbit. Commander Chris Ferguson piloted the Atlantis to a safe landing at 5:52 a.m., and the spacecraft will soon undergo processing and decommissioning. It has been an emotional experience for residents and workers along Florida's Space Coast -- some 9,000 shuttle engineers, technicians, and other staff are being laid off, and the main tourism draw for the area has come to an end. Shown here, for one last time, is a look at a full shuttle mission, STS-135, the final flight of Atlantis. Also, be sure to see The History of the Space Shuttle, an earlier entry on In Focus.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Marc Monaghan

    Americans at Work: Elementary and High School Educators in Chicago

    Welcome to a new series of photo essays at the Atlantic titled Americans at Work. Our inaugural story about educators in Chicago comes from Chicago-based documentary photographer Marc Monaghan.

  • Raphael Dias / Getty for the International Paralympic Committee

    Hopeful Images From 2016

    After another year of news stories that produced photos that can often be difficult or disturbing to view, I thought I’d take the time to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year.

  • Adam Rhew / Charlotte Magazine / Reuters

    2016: The Year in Photos, September–December

    Time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2016. Among the events covered in this essay: the U.S. presidential election; continued wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen; a new view of the planet Jupiter; and much more.

  • Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

    2016: The Year in Photos, May-August

    Time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2016. Among the events covered in this essay: the Summer Olympics in Rio, the U.S. Republican and Democratic national conventions, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, and much more.

Join the Discussion