Atlantis touched down at 5:57 a.m. to complete NASA’s 135th and final shuttle flight.
According to NASA, after 200 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,284,862 miles, the STS-135 astronauts returned home.
“Although we got to take the ride,” said Commander Chris Ferguson, according to NASA. “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 included Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim.
The final flight of the shuttle program concluded with a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. Atlantis carried the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module containing supplies and spare parts for the space station. Raffaello also brought back unneeded materials from the station.
The space shuttle will now be retired, ending the final flight of the 30-year program. The Associated Press reported that NASA is getting out of the launching-to-orbit business, giving Atlantis, Endeavour and Discovery to museums, so it can start working on human trips to asteroids and Mars. Private U.S. companies will pick up the more mundane job of space station delivery runs and, still several years out, astronaut ferry flights.