Historic Photos: NASA's 1st & Last Space Shuttle Crews Meet

Welcome Back, Astronauts

NASA

Columbia shuttle astronaut Robert L. Crippen, pilot for the STS-1 flight, exists the the orbiter after a successful landing at Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, California on April 14, 1981. Astronaut John W. Young, crew commander, had earlier exited the craft and can be seen standing at the foot of the steps with George W. S. Abbey, director of flight operations at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). Dr. Craig L. Fischer, chief of the medical operations branch in JSC's medical sciences division, follows Crippen down the steps.

STS-135 Patch

NASA

STS-135 patch.

STS-135 Crew at Rollout

Shuttle Atlantis' final crew, commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim, stand in front of the orbiter as it rolls out to the launch pad one last time.

Atlantis Crew Waves to the Press

Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre

Mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus, shuttle pilot Doug Hurley, and shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson (from left to right) wave to the crowd for the traditional photo op before boarding the NASA van that would transport them to the launch pad on July 8, 2011

STS-135 TCDT Walkout

collectSPACE/Robert Z. Pearlman

The four astronauts on shuttle Atlantis' final mission, the STS-135 flight, conducted a dress rehearsal for their July liftoff on June 23.

Last Shuttle Launch

NASA Kennedy (via Twitter)

Atlantis appears to fly past flags at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on July 8, 2011.

Atlantis Goes Transonic

Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre

This view of vapor clouds forming atop the twin solid-rocket boosters as the shuttle Atlantis and its launch stack approached the speed of sound was captured from behind the countdown clock using a Canon EOS 7D digital SLR camera coupled to a Takahashi FS-78 apochromatic refractor on July 8, 2011.

Crowd Greets Atlantis

NASA/Frankie Martin

Space shuttle Atlantis is slowly towed from the Shuttle Landing Facility to an orbiter processing facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the last time on July 21, 2011. A crowd of NASA workers is on hand for an employee appreciation event.

Space Shuttle Atlantis American Flag

NASA/Kim Shiflett

An American flag flaps proudly in the wind in front of space shuttle Atlantis on the Shuttle Landing Facility's Runway 15 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.