This is a page in the history of the U.S. space program that turns. Party July 8, Atlantis landed at dawn Thursday in Cape Canaveral, Florida at the end of the 135th and final mission of a U.S. shuttle.
Atlantis was raised to 5:57 (9:57 GMT, 11:57 in France), before dawn, putting the end to 30 years of shuttle flights. The program was marked by successes such as the rehabilitation of the Hubble Space Telescope, but two accidents that killed 14 astronauts, the crew of Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003.
From Cape Canaveral in Florida on July 8, the four crew members of Atlantis delivered to the International Space Station (ISS), the equivalent of one year supply, more than four tons of food, spare parts, and clothing. “After serving the world for 30 years, the space shuttle has earned its place in history,” said the radio-command of Atlantis, Christopher Ferguson.
“Good job, America,” said the mission control center. “The space shuttle has changed the way we see the world and our universe. There are a lot of emotion today, but one thing is indisputable. America is not going to stop exploring,” said Christopher Ferguson.
“Thank Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis our ship. Thank you for protection and to bring the program to an end if appropriate,” added the captain. Family and friends of the astronauts, program directors and managers of NASA gathered near the runway to greet the astronauts. The center of Mission Control in Houston, also knew the influx of great days.
At the end of his 33rd and last flight, Atlantis will be retired, as the shuttles Discovery and Endeavour earlier. The three vessels will be on display in museums in the United States.
With the shuttle stop, and until private companies sell the launchers, probably within three to ten years, NASA will rely on Russian Soyuz to transport astronauts between the ISS and Earth. American astronauts and will settle for only a few flight opportunities every year, instead of from 35 to 50 places offered annually by the shuttle.
Despite two accidents that killed 14 astronauts and destroyed two aircraft-seven died in the Challenger explosion in 1986, both in the disintegration of Columbia in 2003 – the shuttles have transported more than any human that ‘it another space fleet: 355 people in total, from 16 countries.
The five shuttle in 30 years, traveled a combined distance of 872 million kilometers. They spent 1,333 days in space, almost four years, and completed more than 21,150 revolutions around the Earth.