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

  • Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / Getty

    Carnival 2017 Around the World

    Carnival season is under way across Europe and the Americas.

  • Matt Eich

    Americans at Work: A Husband Captures His Wife's World

    This week, our “Americans at Work photo essay features photographs of Melissa Eich, a speech pathologist in Charlottesville, Virginia, taken by her husband Matt Eich.

  • Safin Hamed / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 2/18–2/24

    Flooding in California, unrest at town hall meetings across the U.S., the Naked Man Festival in Japan, continued fighting in Iraq and Syria, the end of a long-term protest in North Dakota, horse racing on a frozen Swiss lake, and much more.

  • Guillermo Arias / AFP / Getty

    10 Days Along the Border

    Earlier this month, Agence France-Presse photographers Jim Watson and Guillermo Arias traveled the length of the U.S.–Mexico border.

Join the Discussion