Space Shuttle Atlantis made its maiden flight in October 1985, and made its last flight in July 2011, the last flight before the Shuttle program ended. This final flight brought additional supplies to the International Space Station. By the end of its final mission, Atlantis had orbited the Earth 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 mi in space or more than 525 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
One of Atlantis' notable missions was STS-71, which marked a number of firsts in human spaceflight: 100th U.S. manned space flight; first U.S. shuttle-Russian Space Station Mir docking and joint on-orbit operations; and first on-orbit changeout of shuttle crew. When linked, Atlantis and Mir together formed the largest spacecraft in orbit at the time.
The Space Shuttle orbiter was a reusable winged "space-plane", a mixture of rockets, spacecraft, and aircraft. This space-plane could carry crews and payloads into low Earth orbit, perform on-orbit operations, then re-enter the atmosphere and land as a glider, returning its crew and any on-board payload to the Earth. The Space Shuttle Orbiter resembled an aircraft in its design, and was roughly the same size as a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 airliner.
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