Space shuttle Atlantis touched down on the Shuttle Landing Facility’s Runway 15 at 5:57 a.m. EDT on July 21. After 200 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,284,862 miles, the landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida brought to a close 30 years of space shuttle flights.
“Although we got to take the ride,” said Commander Chris Ferguson on behalf of his crew, ” we sure hope that everybody who has ever worked on, or touched, or looked at, or envied or admired a space shuttle was able to take just a little part of the journey with us.”
The STS-135 crew consisted of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim.
“I really want to thank the space shuttle team and the Space Shuttle Program for just a tremendous effort today and throughout the entire history of the program. We gave them a tremendous challenge to fly and execute these missions and to finish strong and I can tell you today that the team accomplished every one of those objectives,” said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier as he addressed the media at the post-landing news conference. “I’d also like to thank the nation for allowing us to have these thirty years to go use the shuttle system.”
“It is great to have Atlantis safely home after a tremendously successful mission — and home to stay,” said Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director, referencing Atlantis’ retirement at Kennedy’s Visitor Complex.
“I’m unbelievably proud to be here representing the Space Shuttle Program and the thousands of people across the country who do the work,” said Mike Moses, space shuttle launch integration manager. “Hearing the sonic booms as Atlantis came home for the last time really drove it home to me that this has been a heck of a program.”
“The workers out here and across the country in the Space Shuttle Program have dedicated their lives, their hearts and their souls to this program, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Mike Leinbach, space shuttle launch director at Kennedy.
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.
On the 13-day mission, the STS-135 crew delivered to the International Space Station 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. The supplies 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.