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Space shuttle Atlantis to land in Florida

05-24-2010 08:09 BJT

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Space shuttle Atlantis departed the International Space Station on Sunday, leaving behind what one astronaut called a "palace" in space that is 98 percent finished after 12 years of construction.

The shuttle and six U.S. astronauts are due to land back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.

Atlantis arrived at the station on May 16 to deliver a new Russian-built docking module, research lab, and other scientific equipment and supplies for the station's six member live-aboard crew.

The flight is the final space mission for Atlantis, with sister ships Discovery and Endeavor scheduled for their last missions in September and November.

U.S. space agency NASA is retiring the shuttles for cost and safety issues, and once the space station project is complete, the heavy transporters will no longer be needed.


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