IT & Network Infrastructure : Space Shuttle Atlantis: A Retrospective
The safe return of the space shuttle Atlantis marked the end of an era for NASA as the shuttle program drew to a close after 30 years. Atlantis, named after the two-masted, primary research ship that operated for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966, flew its maiden voyage Oct. 3, 1985. Upon retirement, Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Center Visitor's Complex in Florida. "Thank you, America, for supporting this program," shuttle Commander Chris Ferguson said after the wake-up call on the shuttle's last day in space. STS-135 was the 33rd and final flight for Atlantis, which spent 307 days in space, orbited Earth 4,848 times and traveled 125,935,769 miles. Since STS-1 launched on April 12, 1981, 355 individuals from 16 countries flew 852 times aboard the five space shuttles. The shuttles traveled more than 542 million miles and hosted more than 2,000 experiments in the fields of Earth, astronomy, biological and materials sciences. The shuttles docked with two space stations, the Russian Mir and the International Space Station. Shuttles deployed 180 payloads, including satellites, returned 52 from space, and retrieved, repaired and redeployed seven spacecraft.