NASA’s space shuttle program came to an end at 5:56 a.m. EDT (9:56 UTC) on July 21, 2011 when Atlantis touched down safely at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Here are a few photos from Atlantis’ memorable final flight into space.
Atlantis sits docked with the ISS in this photo taken by astronaut Mike Fossum aboard the space station.
Atlantis departs the ISS on July 18, 2011 – a space station solar panel can be seen in the foreground
An Atlantis crew member took this image of the International Space Station shortly after the shuttle departed the station on July 19, 2011.
The Atlantis crew wave farewell at the end of the last crew news conference from aboard the shuttle on July 20, 2011.
Final landing of a space shuttle – Space Shuttle Atlantis, mission STS-135 – at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 21, 2011.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.