Photo by Justin R. Patterson
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The space shuttle has left the space station for the last time.
Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station early Tuesday. The two spacecraft were soaring nearly 250 miles above the Pacific when they parted company - forever.
The space shuttle and its crew of four are due back on Earth on Thursday. Their Florida homecoming will mark the end of NASA's 30-year shuttle era.
Atlantis left behind a year's worth of supplies, as well as a commemorative shuttle model and a U.S. flag that flew on the first shuttle mission in 1981.
Atlantis will join Discovery and Endeavour in retirement after this 13-day journey, the 135th for the shuttle program. All three will become museum displays.