June 1 - Space Shuttle Endeavour lands at the Kennedy Space Station in Florida for the last time after completing its mission to the International Space Station, as Space Shuttle Atlantis prepares for NASA's last shuttle mission. Nick Rowlands reports.
▲ Hide Transcript
▶ View Transcript
The space shuttle, Endeavour touches down for the last time at its Florida home base early on Wednesday.
The six-man crew completed a 16 day mission to deliver scientific equipment to the International Space Station.
Commander Scott Kelly, a four-time shuttle veteran, thanked everyone who had worked on the spaceship over its 25 flights.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ENDEAVOUR COMMANDER SCOTT KELLY (OFF-CAMERA):
"On behalf of my entire crew, I want to thank every person who has worked for - to get this mission going, and every person who has worked on Endeavour. It's sad to see her land for the last time, but she really has a great legacy."
Nearby, sister ship Atlantis was on its way to the launch pad for NASA's final planned shuttle mission - a supply run to the space station scheduled for liftoff on July 8th.
The United States is retiring its three-ship shuttle fleet due to high operating costs, and to free up money to develop new spacecraft that can travel beyond the International Space Station.
Atlantis commander Christopher J Ferguson says the roll-out is a bitter-sweet moment.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) STS-135 COMMANDER CHRISTOPHER J. FERGUSON:
"Well, it is true. It is bitter-sweet. Then they said, 'What's the sweet part? I don't understand it.' And the fact is that we have this vehicle behind us, and we've had it working for us for 30 years, and we're going to look upon this mission as a celebration of all the space shuttle has accomplished over its 30 year life-span, of course in its past one-third of its flights, it was busy building the International Space Station, and without the space shuttle, we wouldn't have that."
It will be at least four years before NASA can launch astronauts out of the United States again.
Until then, Russia will transport crews to the space station, at a cost of more than $50 million per person.
Nick Rowlands, Reuters.
Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code