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

  • Greg Locke / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 4/15–4/21

    A massive statue of a Miao goddess erected in China, the “Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking event” in England, a manned rocket launch in Kazakhstan, and much more.

  • Ariana Cubillos / AP

    In Venezuela, the 'Mother of all Marches'

    On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities to step up their continuing demonstrations against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

  • Jacky Chen / Reuters

    Along the North Korean Border

    Photographs from the past few years of North Koreans seen just over the border from parts of China and South Korea

  • Christopher Polk / Getty for Coachella

    Scenes From Coachella 2017

    This weekend, the first part of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival took place in Indio, California.

Join the Discussion