|Published:||Jul 21, 2011 1:48 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Jul 21, 2011 12:48 PM EDT|
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.-- The final flight of NASA's 30-year shuttle program has landed.
The four astronauts on board Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down at Kennedy Space Center, shortly before sunrise.
Right after guiding the spacecraft to a stop, commander Chris Ferguson thanked NASA for protecting them and bringing the program to a fitting end.
He also spoke highly of his fellow astronauts.
"Flying in space is a real dream, but flying in space has a lot more to do with who you do it with than what you do. These three folks, Rex, and Sandy and Doug, I'll tell you a commander couldn't ask for 3 better people to go and perform an aggressive and to a certain extent, a historic mission. "
All of the space shuttles will eventually go on display in museums across the country.
Until NASA partners with private companies for manned missions, Russian spacecraft will take Americans back to the International Space Station.
NASA says it plans to focus on deep space exploration, such as going to Mars or an asteroid.