Heading straight into the history books, the space shuttle Endeavour has finished its final flight with a smooth landing in Florida.
After 19 years of service, Endeavour’s trip to the International Space Station was the next-to-last shuttle flight as NASA winds up the programme.
Before leaving orbit, Commander Mark Kelly said he was looking forward to seeing his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from an assassination attempt.
“It is great to be back here at the Kennedy Space Center,” Kelly told reporters after leaving the spacecraft, surrounded by his crew. “It is great to bring Endeavour back in great shape. It looks like it is ready to go do another mission but this is going to be the last flight.”
NASA’s attention now shifts to sister ship Atlantis, which was already being moved into position for the last shuttle flight in July. The US is retiring its three-ship fleet due to high operating costs and to free up funds to develop new spacecraft able to travel beyond the ISS.