Even if it's not today, at some point Atlantis will lift off and eventually finish the last of the space shuttle missions.
There are plenty of famous, even iconic, NASA photographs of the program; we pulled some highlights of lesser-known ones.
15. Almost a rocket ship This makes the shuttle look less like a piece of deadweight descending to earth than a 1950s rocket ship that's about to zoom back skyward faster than a homesick angel, as the fighter pilots say.
14. Still tethered to the ground A view from above, with neat shadows of the workers.
13. Astronaut rumble in space!!!! You move the damn satellite!!, No you move it! No, you!!
12. Sitting on puffy cotton An intense bunch of clouds makes the shuttle look like it's sitting in a gift box that's been opened.
11. Gotta have a hair picture Zero gravity always is fun for women and their hair. Here's Columbia commander Eileen Collins.
10. Highest garage sale ever In 1984, the Discovery plucked two non-functioning satellites out of the air to return them for repairs. After grabbing them, astronaut Dale Gardner put them up for bid. Joseph P. Allen, who assisted him, took the photo and can be seen in Gardner's visor reflection.
9. Shuttle landings used to be very big deals Crowds came and parked to see an early shuttle landing in the desert.
8. Hey! Look out the window! Like kids in a car, astronauts press against the window to get a good luck at the space station Mir.
7. Yep, that'll do -- let's go get us a beer We like how this looks like the shuttle could be in some anonymous industrial yard on the east side, where a group of shade-tree mechanics get together on weekends to try to restore it.
6. Doesn't get much more free than this Mark Lee is untethered and has become his own personal spacecraft as he tests the SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue) system.
5. Grapefruit Moon Tom Waits sang the song, but he never had this uniquely framed look at the moon framed between the Earth and the shuttle. 'Cause every time I hear that melody, well, puts me up a tree, And the grapefruit moon, one star shining, is all that I can see.
4. Heeeeere's Johnny!! Rick Hieb doesn't look too much like Jack Nicholson with the ax as he peers into Endeavour, but we're not sure we'd let him in.
3. Ground testing We hope no one decided to take one last look inside before they lit the candle.
2. Remember to bend your knees when you lift Hieb, Thomas Akers and Pierre Thuot look like they're lifting four and a half tons of Intelsat VI communication satellite, but they're actually guiding it in to fully capture it. The satellite had failed to reach orbit, so they attached a new upper stage and relaunched it successfully.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
1. What was left of the Challenger Pieces of the shuttle Challenger lie in a storage facility, definitely bringing to mind the words "grim reminder" when it comes to what the shuttle astronauts risked.