The space shuttle Atlantis will end its mission journey to the International Space Station (ISS) when it lands on Kennedy Space Center on Thursday July 21 at about 6 am ET.
According to PCMag.com, the 12-day mission objectives included maneuvers such as stocking the ISS with 9,403 pounds of equipment, food, spare components, and other supplies, and returning to Earth with 5,700 pounds of defective equipment, other supplies and trash the space crew has been using.
Once it re-enters from space and lands Thursday morning, it will wrap up the 30-year space shuttle project that has been re-using space shuttles such as the Atlantis.
After Atlantis, NASA will depend on companies such as Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Blue Origin to develop its commercial rockets and spacecraft to fly to the ISS, a venture that will cost NASA $270 million.
NASA also announced that the end of the shuttle program does not mean the end of NASA or better yet the end of NASA-manned missions to space.
The space agency communicated its high ambitions for space explorations, saying it will be "designing and building the capabilities to send humans to explore the solar system, working toward a goal of landing humans on Mars," and also engaging in deep space exploration studying Mercury.