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Atlantis: Time to Say Goodbye

Watching her land live was agony and ecstasy.  I wish it wasn’t the last, but at least her final approach was pitch-perfect and altogether beautiful.

I took screenshots of that historic final landing.  Figured I’d share.



Pilot’s view on the final approach.



Atlantis on infrared.



You can see the glow around her.  She’s hot!  Twin sonic booms nearly stopped my heart before they announced what they were.



Pilot’s view of the runway.



And again, with a little flare of color.



And here she is, about to touch down.



Almost down.



Touching down.



Love that smoke – from the tires?  I don’t know enough about these landings to tell.  But it’s beautiful.



Chute deployed.



Steaming hot! Watching that steam come off her in infrared was really fascinating – it looked almost like smoke signals.  As dawn came and they took close shots of the nose of the orbiter, you could see the air wavering from the heat coming off her.



And there she is, crew members out, mission complete.  STS135, the final orbit, an unqualified success.



Yeah, that deserved a high five.

America’s future in space is uncertain.  That’s the only darkness on this day.  I just hope the next manned ship this country launches is the one that takes us beyond our own horizons.  I want to see a geologist on Mars.

Make it so, America.

And for Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Endeavor, and Enterprise, the song that cycled through my mind as I watched the last of you land for the very last time:

Goodbye, old friends. I’ll miss you.

Comments

  1. says

    Yeah…I've been watching the launches from my house the last few years, and it adds a bit of extra sadness to the end of the space program. America used to be so awesome, and now? Now we're just a little bit less.