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

  • © Hannah Le Leu / Ocean Art

    Winners of the 2021 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest

    Some of the top images from the 13 categories of underwater photography in this year’s competition

  • Ozkan Bilgin / Anadolu Agency / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Ice Disk, Snowy Owl, Giant Ichthyosaur

    Ducklings at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, a fish-operated vehicle in Israel, a whale off the California coast, the 2022 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, and much more

  • Washington Alves / Reuters

    Heavy Rainfall Causes Severe Flooding in Brazil

    Weeks of heavy rain have inundated communities in several Brazilian states.

  • Stephanie Keith / Reuters

    Tracking Cougars to Figure Out Where to Build a Bridge

    Stephanie Keith, a photographer with Reuters, recently joined members of the Olympic Cougar Project as they tracked a wild cougar named Lilu.