HOSUTON, July 21 � Space shuttle Atlantis touched down safely in its final landing at the Kennedy Space Centre here today, bringing the curtain down on the NASA�s 30-year space shuttle programme considered one of the most eventful eras in the US history of manned spaceflight.
Atlantis landed just before sunrise at 6 am local time, completing its 13-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS), with its Commander paying tribute to the long-running space shuttle programme.
Around 2,000 people gathered to watch the historic landing, which came as a long-awaited � and much-dreaded � milestone marking the end of an eventful era for the US manned spaceflight.
Coming home to a future clouded by tight budgets and uncertain political support, Commander Christopher Ferguson guided Atlantis through a sweeping left overhead turn and lined up on runway 15, quickly descending into the glare of powerful xenon spotlights.
The mood was electric, both sad and triumphant, as a vehicle that had been hurtling through space a little more than an hour earlier rolled to a graceful stop at the Kennedy Space Centre.
�Mission complete, Houston,� Atlantis Commander Chris Ferguson radioed to Mission Control at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston. �After serving the world for over 30 years, the space shuttle found its place in history, and it�s come to a final stop.�