June 1, 2009

Atlantis begins journey home atop a 747

U.S. space shuttle Atlantis began a cross-country trip Monday, en route to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida while mounted on top a modified 747 aircraft.

The airplane, known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California Monday morning and arrived at its first stop -- Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas -- at 1:22 p.m. EDT. The plane and its crew were to remain overnight in Texas, before departing Tuesday on what might be the trip's last leg, depending upon weather conditions.

Atlantis and a crew of seven astronauts landed at the Air Force base May 24, concluding a 13-day journey of about 5.3 million miles in space to service the Hubble Space Telescope for the last time.