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

  • Christian Palma / AP

    Photos of the Week: Underwater Restaurant, Holi Colors, Wonderland Eurasia

    Nowruz celebrations in Iraq, terrible flooding in Mozambique, springtime in China and England, mourning in New Zealand, flower fields in California, floodwaters across the midwestern U.S. and much more.

  • Carl Court / Getty

    Photos: Mourning in New Zealand

    Images from the past few days in Christchurch, where residents continue to gather at makeshift memorials across the city

  • Nati Harnik / AP

    In Photos: Deadly Floods Sweep the Midwest

    Snowmelt and last week’s “bomb cyclone” have overwhelmed rivers in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and neighboring states, causing widespread flooding that has broken dozens of records and cost at least three lives.

  • Leah Millis / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Hudson Yards, Birdman Rally, Cat Yoga

    A rabbit in war-torn Syria, water shortages in Venezuela, cherry blossoms in China, terror in New Zealand, voting in North Korea, a global youth protest against climate-change inaction, and much more