Atlantis comes in for its final landing (Video)

July 21, 2011

(Bill Ingalls/AP)

(Watch the video here)

Just before sunrise, the space shuttle Atlantis made its final landing, putting to bed the 30-year U.S. shuttle program. “Like a UFO in the dark, fiery contrails lighting Florida up,” Beth Carpenter wrote on Twitter in one of the many elegies.

The NASA Goddard Photo and Video team put together a short, sweet tribute to the last flights of Discovery and Atlantis. In the first few seconds, Discovery moves past the night side of the Earth into the daytime, as the Aurora Borealis clings to Earth’s side. In the second, the Discovery shuttle moves over a cloudy United States. And in the last few moments, the sun rises behind Atlantis in this time-lapse sequence on July 19, 2011, just two days before it landed:

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