NASA Nostalgia: 42 Favorite Photos of the Space Shuttle Atlantis

August 8th, 2011 Permalink

It’s been only a short time since the space shuttle Atlantis completed her 135th space flight and concluded her final mission into the space frontier. It’s the end of an era for NASA, the finale of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program. That just seems wrong to us since NASA seems as American as apple pie. Although it’s not the end of NASA, we already miss NASA in its former capacity. We love to stare at images of the shuttle and adore pictures captured far above Earth. This time, all of these photographs are either of Atlantis or taken from Atlantis. Here’s some of our favorite photos in a nostalgic look back at the Space Shuttle Atlantis. We still love you, NASA! [42 Photos]

space shuttle Atlantis is seen on launch pad 39a of the NASA Kennedy Space Center shortly after the rotating service structure was rolled back, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009

The space shuttle Atlantis is seen on launch pad 39a of the NASA Kennedy Space Center shortly after the rotating service structure was rolled back, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009, Cape Canaveral, FL. Atlantis is scheduled to launch at 2:28p.m. EST, Monday, Nov. 16, 2009. Photo #1 by NASA/Bill Ingalls

An American flag flaps proudly in the wind in front of space shuttle Atlantis on the Shuttle Landing Facility's Runway 15 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis' final return from space

An American flag flaps proudly in the wind in front of space shuttle Atlantis on the Shuttle Landing Facility’s Runway 15 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis’ final return from space. Photo #2 by NASA


Fish-eye view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis as seen from the Russian Mir space station during the STS-71 mission

The date was 06/29/1995: Fish-eye view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis as seen from the Russian Mir space station during the STS-71 mission. Photo #3 by NASA

Space Shuttle Atlantis departing the Mir Russian Space Station. This image was taken during the STS-71 mission by cosmonauts

On Independence Day 1995: A view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis departing the Mir Russian Space Station. This image was taken during the STS-71 mission by cosmonauts aboard their Soyuz TM transport vehicle. The scene is backdropped by the Earth’s limb. Photo #4 by NASA

A flock of birds take flight shortly after the Space Shuttle Atlantis arrives at Pad 39B

The date was 11/02/1998: A flock of birds take flight shortly after the Space Shuttle Atlantis arrives at Pad 39B after being rolled out from the Vehicle Assembly Building approximately six hours before. Atlantis is scheduled to be launched in late November 1988 on Space Shuttle mission STS-27, a Department of Defense dedicated mission. This will be Atlantis’ third mission in space Photo #5 by NASA

STS-27, Orbiter Atlantis, Liftoff

Space Shuttle Atlantis takes flight on its STS-27 mission on December 2, 1988, 9:30 a.m. EST, utilizing 375,000 pounds thrust produced by its three main engines. The STS-27 was the third classified mission dedicated to the Department of Defense (DoD). After completion of mission, Orbiter Atlantis landed December 6, 1988, 3:36 p.m. PST at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Photo #6 by NASA

NASA end of an era, STS-135 Landing

Space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) touches down at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), completing its 13-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program, early Thursday morning, July 21, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Overall, Atlantis spent 307 days in space and traveled nearly 126 million miles during its 33 flights. Atlantis, the fourth orbiter built, launched on its first mission on Oct. 3, 1985. Photo #7 by NASA/Bill Ingalls

STS-135 Atlantis Launch

Space shuttle Atlantis is seen as it launches from pad 39A on Friday, July 8, 2011, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch of Atlantis, STS-135, is the final flight of the shuttle program, a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. Photo #8 by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Space shuttle Atlantis is seen through the window of a Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) as it launches from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on the STS-135 mission, Friday, July 8, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Fl

Space shuttle Atlantis is seen through the window of a Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) as it launches from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on the STS-135 mission, Friday, July 8, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Atlantis launched on the final flight of the shuttle program on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. The STS-135 crew will deliver the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module containing supplies and spare parts for the space station. Photo #9 by NASA/Dick Clark

Station Crew Views Shuttle Landing

This unprecedented view of the space shuttle Atlantis, appearing like a bean sprout against clouds and city lights, on its way home, was photographed by the Expedition 28 crew of the International Space Station. Airglow over Earth can be seen in the background. Photo #10 by NASA

Last view from Atlantis of ISS

This image of the International Space Station was taken by Atlantis’ STS-135 crew during a fly around as the shuttle departed the station on Tuesday, July 19, 2011. STS-135 is the final shuttle mission to the orbital laboratory. Photo #11 by NASA

Aurora Australis From Space and Atlantis

This image is of Atlantis and its Orbital Boom Sensor System robot arm extension backdropped against Earth’s horizon and a greenish phenomenon associated with Aurora Australis. One of the station’s solar array panels appears at upper left. Because of the exposure time needed for this type of photography, some of the stars in the background are blurred. Photo #12 by NASA

Atlantis Transiting the Sun

In this tightly cropped image, the NASA space shuttle Atlantis is seen in silhouette during solar transit, Tuesday, May 12, 2009, from Florida. This image was made before Atlantis and the crew of STS-125 had grappled the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo #13 by NASA

Bright sun greets the International Space Station in this Nov. 22 scene from the Russian section of the orbital outpost, photographed by one of the STS-129 crew members

(22 Nov. 2009) — The bright sun greets the International Space Station in this Nov. 22 scene from the Russian section of the orbital outpost, photographed by one of the Atlantis STS-129 crew members. Photo #14 by NASA

Backdropped by a blue and white part of Earth, a partial view of Space Shuttle Atlantis' payload bay

On 17 Nov. 2009 — Backdropped by a blue and white part of Earth, a partial view of Space Shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay, vertical stabilizer, orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods and docking mechanism are featured in this image photographed by an STS-129 crew member from an aft flight deck window. Photo #15 by NASA

ISS taken from the space shuttle Atlantis

The International Space Station photographed soon after the space shuttle Atlantis and the station began their post-undocking relative separation. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 3:53 a.m. (CST) on Nov. 25, 2009. Photo #16 by NASA

Earth's horizon and the blackness of space are featured in this image photographed by an STS-125 crewmember on the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis

Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space are featured in this image photographed by an STS-125 crewmember on the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis on flight day nine. Photo #17 by NASA

Backdropped by a blue and white Earth, Space Shuttle Atlantis' payload bay, vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods

(19 May 2009) — Backdropped by a blue and white Earth, Space Shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay, vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods are featured in this image photographed by an Atlantis STS-125 crewmember on flight day nine. Photo #18 by NASA

The planet Venus, the moon and the aft section of space shuttle Atlantis

(16 May 2010) — The aft section of space shuttle Atlantis is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 23 crew member shortly after Atlantis docked with the International Space Station. The Russian-built Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1), named Rassvet, is visible in the cargo bay. The planet Venus and the moon are visible at top center. Photo #19 by NASA

STS-125 Atlantis crew working on the Hubble

(16 May 2009) — Astronauts Andrew Feustel (partially obscured at top) and John Grunsfeld, both STS-125 mission specialists, participate in the mission’s third session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as work continues to refurbish and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. During the six-hour, 36-minute spacewalk, Grunsfeld and Feustel removed the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement and installed in its place the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. They also completed the Advanced Camera for Surveys electronic card replacement work, and completed part 2 of the ACS repair, installing a new electronics box and cable. Photo #20 by NASA

Backdropped over parts of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, space shuttle Atlantis' vertical stabilizer, orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods and aft payload bay

(25 May 2010) — Backdropped over parts of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, space shuttle Atlantis’ vertical stabilizer, orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods and aft payload bay are featured in this image photographed by an STS-132 on the shuttle during flight day 12 activities. Recognizable features in the photo include Lake St. Clair and parts of Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Photo #21 by NASA

Hubble 3D offers a vivid, first-person view of the Atlantis STS-125 Mission

Filmed with the IMAX 3D Cargo Bay Camera, astronaut John Grunsfeld, positioned on a foot restraint on the end of Atlantis’ remote manipulator system (RMS), and astronaut Andrew Feustel replace a Fine Guidance Sensor in the mission’s fifth and final session of extravehicular activity. Photo #22 by NASA

Earth's horizon and the moon during the week and a half period that the orbiting complex was hosting Atlantis and its crew for the final Space Shuttle Program mission

(12 July 2011) — One of the Expedition 28 crewmembers aboard the International Space Station recorded this image of Earth’s horizon and the moon during the week and a half period that the orbiting complex was hosting Atlantis and its crew for the final Space Shuttle Program mission. Photo #23 by NASA

View of the Journey Home - Atlantis

Backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere, space shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay, Canadian-built remote manipulator system robotic arm, vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system pods are featured in this image photographed by the STS-125 crew on flight day 10. Photo #24 by NASA

Atlantis and ISS - Through the Astronaut's Eyes

Astronaut Ron Garan took this image during the spacewalk conducted on Tues., July 12, 2011. It shows the International Space Station with Space Shuttle Atlantis docked on the right and a Russian Soyuz on the far left. In the foreground is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) experiment installed during the STS-134 mission. AMS is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector designed to use the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe’s origin by searching for antimatter and dark matter, and measuring cosmic rays. Photo #25 by NASA

Backdropped by a cloud-covered part of Earth, Space Shuttle Atlantis was photographed by the Expedition 15 crew after it undocked from the International Space Station

Backdropped by a cloud-covered part of Earth, Space Shuttle Atlantis was photographed by the Expedition 15 crew after it undocked from the International Space Station on June 19, 2007, in preparation for the journey home. The STS-117 astronauts completed about eight days of joint operations with the station crew. The docked Soyuz spacecraft is visible at left. Photo #26 by NASA

Atlantis Performs a Back Flip

Atlantis Performs a Back Flip: The Expedition 23 crew snapped this image of the underside of Atlantis’ crew cabin, during a survey of the approaching space shuttle prior to docking with the International Space Station. Photo #27 by NASA

Atlantis Breaks Through the Clouds

Space shuttle Atlantis emerges through the clouds over Launch Pad 39A on a balmy Florida afternoon at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Liftoff on its STS-129 mission came at 2:28 p.m. EST on Nov. 16, 2009. Photo #28 by NASA

Atlantis to Orbit

Atlantis to Orbit: Birds don’t fly this high. Airplanes don’t go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend the event. The launch of a rocket bound for space inspires awe and challenges description. Pictured above, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off to visit the International Space Station during the early morning hours of July 12, 2001, one of six missions during the first year of the new millenium. From a standing start, the 2 million kilogram (4.4 million pound) rocket ship lifted off on a journey to circle the Earth that lasted 12 days. Photo #29 by NASA

STS-135 Atlantis Prelaunch

The space shuttle Atlantis is seen shortly after the rotating service structure (RSS) was rolled back at launch pad 39a, Thursday, July 7, 2011 at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Atlantis is set to liftoff Friday, July 8, on the final flight of the shuttle program, STS-135, a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. Photo #30 by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Atlantis Rollout STS-79 - Overhead View of Atlantis Stack Rollout

Overhead View of Atlantis Stack Rollout STS-79 on 8/2/1991. Photo #31 by NASA

Atlantis from A Different Perspective

This is one of a series of images taken by the station crew of space shuttle Atlantis in Earth orbit. Seen at the rear of the cargo bay is the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module, packed with supplies and spare parts for the orbiting outpost. The shuttle ‘posed’ for photographs and visual surveys and performed a back-flip for the rendezvous pitch maneuver. A 400 millimeter lens was used to capture this particular series of images.. Photo #32 by NASA

Shortly before dawn, a red-rimmed moon helps to light the way for the Space Shuttle Atlantis as it rolls out to Launch Pad 39A in preparation for launch of Mission STS-86

8/18/1997: Shortly before dawn, a red-rimmed moon helps to light the way for the Space Shuttle Atlantis as it rolls out to Launch Pad 39A in preparation for launch of Mission STS-86. STS-86 will be the seventh docking of the Space Shuttle with the Russian Space Station Mir. Photo #33 by NASA

Space shuttle Atlantis is seen as it launches from pad 39A on Friday, July 8, 2011, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral

Space shuttle Atlantis is seen as it launches from pad 39A on Friday, July 8, 2011, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch of Atlantis, STS-135, is the final flight of the shuttle program, a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. Photo #34 by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Space shuttle Atlantis soars to orbit

Space shuttle Atlantis soars to orbit from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station at 2:20 p.m. EDT on May 14. The third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, this was the last planned launch for Atlantis. Photo #35 by NASA

overhead view is of Atlantis atop a modified 747 as the craft flew over California's high desert

Fly away home. This overhead view is of Atlantis atop a modified 747 as the craft flew over California’s high desert. Atlantis and the crew of the STS-125 mission landed at Edwards Air Force Base on May 24, 2009, and departed Edwards on the journey home via ferry to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, June 1, 2009. Photo #36 by NASA

The American flag flies on the NASA News Center grounds at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, giving witness to the passage of space shuttle Atlantis as it rolls out to Launch Pad 39A

The American flag flies on the NASA News Center grounds at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, giving witness to the passage of space shuttle Atlantis as it rolls out to Launch Pad 39A. Photo #37 by NASA

Shuttle Atlantis returning to Kennedy Space Center

On 09/01/1998, the Space Shuttle Shuttle Carrier Aircraft SCA Atlantis Kennedy Space Center Boeing 747. Photo #38 by NASA

Atlantis at Sunset

The sun sets behind Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with space shuttle Atlantis awaiting launch at 2:28 p.m. EST Nov. 16 on its STS-129 mission. Photo #39 by NASA/Troy Cryder

Atlantis Lifts Off

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station at 2:20 p.m. EDT on May 14. The third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, this was the last planned launch for Atlantis. The Russian-built Mini Research Module-1, also known as Rassvet, or “dawn,” will be delivered and it will provide additional storage space and a new docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. The laboratory will be attached to the bottom port of the station’s Zarya module. The mission’s three spacewalks will focus on storing spare components outside the station, including six batteries, a communications antenna and parts for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm. Photo #40 by NASA

F-15E Strike Eagle patrols during STS-135 Atlantis Launch

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle patrols the skies above NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. as Space Shuttle Atlantis takes off on its final journey to the International Space Station, Friday, July 8, 2011. The fighters, from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., were enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration’s temporary flight restriction area established around the cape. USAF Photo #41 by Capt. Adam Buchannon

Atlantis to Retire in Florida

Space shuttle Atlantis’ three main engines take center stage to the banners commemorating the orbiters that served the Space Shuttle Program.In a ceremony held in front of Orbiter Processing Facility-1 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the facilities where four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program. Photo #42 by NASA


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