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

  • Toby Melville / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 9/16–9/22

    Record-setting hurricanes, massive protests, a devastating earthquake, and an epic refugee crisis.

  • Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty

    Photos of Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

    On Wednesday, Hurricane Maria crashed across the entire U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, making landfall with winds approaching 150 mph (240 kph).

  • Cathal McNaughton / Reuters

    Southeast Asia's Rohingya Refugee Crisis Reaches a Terrible Peak

    The United Nations Refugee Agency now reports that more than 420,000 people have fled the violence in Burma since August 24.

  • Omar Torres / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Earthquake in Mexico City

    On September 19, 2017, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake shook Mexico City, rattling skyscrapers and sending millions into the streets.

Join the Discussion