End of an Era.... will a new one begin?

By: Susie77 , 1:23 PM GMT on July 21, 2011


Agency Ushers In Next Era OF Exploration

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Wrapping up 30 years of unmatched achievements

and blazing a trail for the next era of U.S. human spaceflight,

NASA's storied Space Shuttle Program came to a "wheels stop" on

Thursday at the conclusion of its 135th mission.

Shuttle Atlantis and its four-astronaut crew glided home for the final

time, ending a 13-day journey of more than five million miles with a

landing at 5:57 a.m. EDT at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It was the 25th night landing (19th night and 78th total landings at

Kennedy) and the 133rd landing in shuttle history.

"The brave astronauts of STS-135 are emblematic of the shuttle program

-- skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds who propelled

America to continued leadership in space with the shuttle's many

successes," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This final

shuttle flight marks the end of an era, but today, we recommit

ourselves to continuing human spaceflight and taking the necessary-

and difficult - steps to ensure America's leadership in human

spaceflight for years to come."

Since STS-1 launched on April 12, 1981, 355 individuals from 16

countries flew 852 times aboard the shuttle. The five shuttles

traveled more than 542 million miles and hosted more than 2,000

experiments in the fields of Earth, astronomy, biological and

materials sciences.

The shuttles docked with two space stations, the Russian Mir and the

International Space Station. Shuttles deployed 180 payloads,

including satellites, returned 52 from space and retrieved, repaired

and redeployed seven spacecraft.

The STS-135 crew consisted of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug

Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim. They

delivered more than 9,400 pounds of spare parts, spare equipment and

other supplies in the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module -

including 2,677 pounds of food - that will sustain space station

operations for the next year. The 21-foot long, 15-foot diameter

Raffaello brought back nearly 5,700 pounds of unneeded materials from

the station.

A welcome home ceremony for the astronauts will be held Friday, July

22, in Houston. The public is invited to attend the 4 p.m. CDT event

at NASA's Hangar 990 at Ellington Field. Gates to Ellington Field

will open at 3:30 p.m. The ceremony will be broadcast live on NASA

Television. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to

streaming video, visit:


STS-135 was the 135th and final shuttle flight, Atlantis' 33rd flight

and the 37th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and


For more information about the STS-135 mission, visit:


For information about the space station, visit:


For information on NASA's future exploration activities, visit:


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Sometimes I complain about the earthly weather, but mostly I like to post about astronomy and space events. Hope you enjoy the articles.

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