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Atlantis returns from final space mission

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Atlantis returns home
  • NEW: Atlantis lands; first of three shuttles to end scheduled flights
  • During historic career, Atlantis carried Magellan, Galileo spacecrafts in orbit
  • Space shuttles Discovery, Endeavour to hold final missions later in year

Kennedy Space Center, Florida (CNN) -- Space shuttle Atlantis landed here Wednesday, concluding the final mission of its 25-year career.

Fresh off a 12-day mission to the international space station, the shuttle landed as scheduled at 8:48 a.m. ET to end its 32nd flight.

Atlantis is the first shuttle to be retired. Two other missions are planned before the space shuttle program ends -- one for Discovery in September and one for Endeavour in November.

Atlantis, which lifted off Friday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center, made its maiden voyage in 1985 and has since logged about 121 million miles in space.

Video: Atlantis' final mission
Video: Astronauts talk to CNN from space

During its career, it carried into orbit the Magellan spacecraft, which went on to map 98 percent of the planet Venus. It also sent the Galileo spacecraft on its way to collect data about Jupiter and its moons for eight years.

President Obama has called for a new strategy that ends current programs while funding new initiatives intended to propel humankind farther into the solar system.

In an April speech, Obama outlined his proposal to pump an additional $6 billion into NASA's budget over the next five years while halting a project to resume lunar missions.