24 amazing images from Space Shuttle Endeavour's last ride

When Endeavour returned to Earth on June 1st, it marked the last flight for the spacecraft and the second to last flight of the entire Space Shuttle program. These 23 pictures were taken during the past few weeks as Endeavour carried out her last mission, and the image you're looking at above is especially wild.

The only way to take a picture of a space shuttle and the ISS at the same time is to have another spacecraft out there carrying astronauts with cameras, which isn't something that's ever happened before. During Discovery's last mission, a proposal was put forward to have a Russian Soyuz spacecraft undock from the ISS and fly a circle around it specifically to take a picture of a shuttle docked with the ISS, but NASA nixed the idea citing safety concerns.

In fact, the only reason that this picture was possible on Endeavour's mission is that a launch delay of two weeks just happened push the shuttle's ISS visit back to coincide with a scheduled Soyuz departure, and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli was able to snap some photos on his way back to Earth.

The rest of STS-134 went flawlwessly, as the crew installed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the ISS, added a boom sensing system, and performed a myriad of other repairs and installations over four separate spacewalks and a total of nearly 17 days in orbit. After returning to Earth, Endeavour will eventually make her way to the California Science Center, where she will go on public display.

All the images used in this article come from NASA's generous online archive.


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