This Should Not Be News

But it is. The shuttle lands safely in Florida.

The re-entry path took Atlantis across the South Pacific, over El Salvador and Honduras and then the western tip of Cuba, and up into Florida.

The mission was, ultimately, uneventful, and that’s a good thing.

After two months of delay because of fuel gauge trouble, Atlantis ended up with an unusually trouble-free flight. Heaters for a set of small thrusters failed earlier this week, but posed no concern for re-entry. And a radiator hose that was bent before the flight retracted neatly into its box when the payload bay doors were closed in the wee hours for landing.

What’s next?

NASA’s next mission is just three weeks away. Endeavour is scheduled to blast off with the first piece of Japan’s massive space station lab on March 11.Atlantis, meanwhile, won’t fly again until the end of August, when it takes a team of repairmen to the Hubble Space Telescope for one final tuneup.

We’re nearing the end of an era.

More here.

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