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Shuttle Atlantis retires after final space voyage

The space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth Wednesday, wrapping up the final mission of its 25-year career.

world Updated: May 26, 2010 18:55 IST

The space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth Wednesday, wrapping up the final mission of its 25-year career.

Atlantis touched down at 8:48 am (1248 GMT) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing a picture-perfect landing on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center.

The shuttle uncoupled from the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday after its mission delivering 12 tonnes of supplies and equipment.

Wednesday's landing caps the 25-year career of one of NASA's (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)iconic spacecrafts, which has logged some 185 million kilometres.

It was Atlantis' 32nd and final mission and will be followed by only two more shuttle flights, one by Discovery in mid-September and the program's final mission by Endeavour at the end of November.

Once the shuttle program ends, the United States will rely on Russian Soyuz rockets to carry its astronauts to the space station until a commercial US launcher can be developed. That is scheduled for 2015.