Aviation Photo #1737666 Rockwell Space Shuttle - NASA

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Atlantis makes her final dive towards Earth after exiting out of the last Heading Alignment Circle (HAC). Almost 35 years after the final flight of the X-24B lifting body (which showed that accurate unpowered re-entry vehicle landings were operationally feasible), the first orbiter glides towards retirement. Atlantis has previously dodged retirement and currently there is a slight glimmer of another flight. She will be the stand by rescue orbiter for the final mission and may get the last laugh yet!
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    Suresh A. Atapattu
    NASA
    Rockwell Space Shuttle
    Rockwell Space Shuttle
    Rockwell Space Shuttle
    Rockwell
    OV-104
    OV-104
    Kennedy Space Center
    Florida
    USA
    May 26, 2010
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Distinct Views: 69,159
Photo Added: July 07, 2010

Comments (12)

Anonymous
7 years ago
Amazing...
Anonymous
7 years ago
Really nice shot of the wingtip vortex. I may be wrong but I think Columbia was the first of the shuttles to orbit.
Anonymous
7 years ago
Beautiful photo, I will be out at the Cape on the Shuttle's last flight into orbit.
Commenter Below:
Yes, the first Shuttle to orbit was the Columbia, but he was referring to Atlantis being the first Shuttle to go into permanent retirement.
Anonymous
7 years ago
Magestic !
Anonymous
7 years ago
Great shot, though the watermark placement detracts from the drama.

I'm holding out (very, very slim) hope NASA continues to add flights, and that Discovery will wind up flying the last STS mission. The "phoenix" of the fleet deserves the last hurrah.
Anonymous
7 years ago
Amazing piece of aeronautical engineering. Farewell, Atlantis
Anonymous
7 years ago
Honor and respect. Like the concorde last flight, this is a rare case where human technology and achievements go back 1 step. Again: honor and respect.
Anonymous
7 years ago
Strange looking vortex
Anonymous
7 years ago
Classy return of a classic spacecraft
Anonymous
5 years ago
Turns out Atlantis did end up getting the last laugh after all! Great shot!
Anonymous
4 years ago
Contrails
Anonymous
4 years ago
There seems to be some confusion about this picture timeline. Let me try and clarify it. When this picture was taken (May 26th 2010), "Atlantis" was scheduled to be retired after this landing hence the caption. STS-135 was not funded at that point. In January 2011 (about 7 months after this picture was uploaded to Airliners.net in July 2010), the "launch on need mission"[STS-335] became STS-135. So almost 8 months after the anticipated retirement, Atlantis was given a reprieve and ended up flying the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program in July 2011.

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