Endeavour returns as Atlantis prepares for last shuttle launch

That serene photo you see above is the space shuttle Endeavour's last landing at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. After 16 days in space, its touchdown on the tarmac signals the beginning of the end for the shuttle program as NASA preps the Atlantis for its final journey in July.

Arriving back on Earth at exactly 2:34 a.m. after spending 299 days in space, orbiting the Earth 4,671 times and traveling 122,883,151 miles, the Endeavour can finally get the retirement it deserves. As of this writing, there are no reports indicating any astronauts ate any grilled lobsters upon returning from the International Space Station as mission specialist Mike Fincke had done prior to the Endeavour's launch.

One hour after Endeavour's landing, the Atlantis was tightly secured to its launch pad. With that said, the harsh reality that the shuttle program is finally wrapping up is sinking in. This is it folks, if you've never seen a space shuttle launch live, you might want to pack your bags and head over to Florida this summer for Atlantis' final hurrah.

There won't be another one of its kind, ever again, that is until the commercial sector churns out its next-gen spaceships to shoot us back into space.

Via NASA

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