What a program this has been, since the very first one took off all those years ago:
[snip] It all started with STS-1, launched on April 12, 1981, just twenty years to the day after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. When astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen launched that morning in Columbia, it was the first time in history a new spacecraft was launched on its maiden voyage with a crew aboard.
For an entire generation, the space shuttle was NASA. We've watched a parade of firsts -- Sally Ride, Guy Bluford, Kathy Sullivan, John Glenn and others. We've seen astronauts float free, and launch and repair spacecraft like Hubble which have fundamentally changed our understanding of the universe. [snip]
Truly, this has been an incredible program, and I am sad to see it come to an end.
Atlantis lifted off without a hitch:
It was a magnificent sight, bringing tears to my eyes.
Farewell, Atlantis, and Godspeed... Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy