'Godspeed:' Atlantis Leaves ISS a Final Time

Shuttle takes unprecedented photos of space station on last return trip
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2011 5:59 AM CDT
'Godspeed:' Atlantis Leaves ISS a Final Time
Crew members of the Atlantis STS-135 mission, front left: Doug Hurley and Chris Ferguson. Rear: Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. July 16, 2011.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Atlantis left the International Space Station for the very last time today, heading home to end the 30-year run of a vessel that kept Americans flying to and from orbit longer than any other rocketship. The space shuttle slipped away after performing a partial lap around the space station. Ten pairs of eyes pressed against the windows, four in the shuttle and six in the station. "Godspeed," a space station astronaut called out. Atlantis is due to land in Florida in Thursday's pre-dawn hours.

story continues below

As a final salute, the space station rotated 90 degrees to provide never-before-seen views of the complex. Atlantis flew halfway around the outpost, cameras whirring aboard both craft to record the historic event. Emotions ran high throughout the morning, both in orbit and at Mission Control. The naval ship's bell aboard the space station rang three times as Atlantis slowly backed away, nearly 250 miles above the Pacific. "Atlantis departing the International Space Station for the last time," space station astronaut Ronald Garan Jr. announced. "We'll miss you guys. Godspeed." (Read more Atlantis Space Shuttle stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.