Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down at 8:48.11 Eastern time at Kennedy Space Center. This makes Atlantis our first Space Shuttle to retire. (I think that also makes it the second reusable space vehicle to retire, after SpaceShipOne decommissioned in 2004.)
This is a sad day in space exploration…but it is long overdue. In what other modern industry or field of endeavor other than space exploration do we continue to use 30-year-old vehicles and devices, and in what other field do we consider those vehicles to be “cutting-edge?” This is the beginning of a period of transition, and I can’t wait to see us get started on what’s next. That day, also, is long overdue.
Congratulations to Atlantis and its many crews on the successful completion of all its missions.