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Space shuttle Atlantis makes final touchdown

Space shuttle Atlantis makes final touchdown
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Space shuttle Atlantis has touched down at the Kennedy Space Centre, bringing the curtain down on NASA’s 30-year space shuttle project.

The orbiter and its four crew commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim have been on a 13-day mission to the International Space Station Alpha.

The final venture ferried supplies and spare parts to the ISS.

Atlantis will now join Discovery and Endeavour in dignified retirement.

The spacecraft will go on display at the Kennedy visitors centre.

The US government ordered an end to the shuttle programme, due in part to the high costs involved in maintaining the ageing shuttles.

NASA has invited the private sector to provide space transport services, the first of which will be ready to fly in three or four years.

Atlantis has impressive career statistics: 33 flights, 307 days in space, 4,848 orbits travelling a total distance of 202,673,974 kilometres.