July 21, 2011: Space shuttle Atlantis landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, wrapping up the final mission of NASA's space shuttle program.
(AP) -- Kennedy Space Center workers in Florida celebrated and mourned the final space shuttle landing Thursday.
Cigars were passed around, flowers brightened desktops and pictures were snapped from all angles as NASA employees hugged, laughed and cried after the shuttle Atlantis landed one final time.
The space shuttle passed into history Thursday, the words "wheels stop" crackling over the cockpit radio for the very last time.
Atlantis began its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere Thursday ahead of a final homecoming that brings down the curtain on NASA's 30-year space shuttle program.
(AP) -- Perfect weather awaited space shuttle Atlantis on Thursday for the very last landing of the 30-year program.
(AP) -- How America gets people and stuff into orbit is about to be outsourced in an out-of-this-world way.
The US space shuttle is the most complex and costly flying machine ever built. It helped build a pioneering space outpost but also kept Americans confined to low Earth orbit for 30 years.
The US space shuttle is part cargo truck, part passenger bus, part airplane built for orbit, and has known soaring highs and devastating lows during its 30-year career.
NASA astronauts and engineers fought off tears Wednesday as Atlantis made its final approach toward Earth, bringing an end to the 30-year shuttle program and closing a chapter in human spaceflight.