Washington: After 32 missions and more than 125 million miles in space at speeds around 17,500 miles per hour, NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis covered its final journey Friday.
This time, however, it was travelling over land at speeds as slow as 2 mph (3.2 kmph) to its final resting place at the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex in Florida state.
“I think that the shuttle was a great book, it really was, and this little part is like the epilogue,” said Chris Ferguson, commander of the last Atlantis mission, which blasted off July 8, 2011, the final flight in NASA’s shuttle program.
On June 29, 1995 Atlantis became the first space shuttle to dock with the Russian space station Mir, which NASA Chief Daniel Goldin called the beginning of “a new era of friendship and cooperation” between the US and Russia.
“You know, if it’s a bad book, you don’t read the epilogue. This is a good book and this is kind of the story of how it was all made and how it was all done. This is good,” Ferguson added.
Atlantis began its historic final trip Friday morning along a 16 km route, leaving the Kennedy Space Center for the final time at 6.30 a.m.
The trip was expected to reach its final destination at the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex for being permanently put on display as a museum piece.
Crews removed more than 100 light poles, 23 traffic signals and 56 traffic signs to allow Atlantis room to get by on its way to its new home.
The museum that will house Atlantis is not finished, and is expected to open in July 2013 at a cost of $100 million.
Atlantis is the third and final retired NASA shuttle to be moved into a museum.