As the Atlantis crew shut down the APUs for the last time it felt as though the beating heart of the Shuttle program had finally stopped. I applied to join the NASA astronaut program 35 years ago and, obviously, that didn't work out for me but having been weaned on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo and watched the successes and tragedies of the Shuttle over the last 30 years I'd like to impose on Gordon's hospitality here by voicing my own appreciation of everything the good folks at NASA have accomplished.
It was a bitter/sweet experience this morning watching Atlantis land for the last time and rather like at a funeral, when one tries very hard to remember all the positives, there's still a huge sense of loss. The story will go on, however, even though one of the major characters has left the stage.
Image of the day, so far as I'm concerned, is this shot from the ISS showing the Shuttle's plasma trail as Atlantis dropped down into the atmosphere: