Friday, August 19, 2011

In Flight USA 2011-08


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, July 21 at the conclusion of its 135th mission. Shuttle Atlantis and its four-astro-naut 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 26th night landing (20th 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.