For the last time ever, the space shuttle parted ways from the International Space Station this morning, preparing to come back to Earth for good.
Atlantis slipped away at 2:28 a.m. EDT Tuesday, flying a half-loop over the station so the crews could take pictures of their respective spacecraft. The ISS rotated 90 degrees so the shuttle astronauts could snap a picture of its long axis, a view the shuttle can't normally see. The pictures will document the product of the space shuttle fleet's three decades of service, NASA said.
“Farewell, ISS, make us proud,” said commander Chris Ferguson.
Shortly after the loop maneuvers, the crew fired Atlantis' engines to move the spacecraft farther apart.