Atlantis space shuttle touched down safely

The Atlantis space shuttle has touched down safely at a NASA base in Florida following its mission to the International Space Station. Earlier there were concerns it may have been damaged after debris was seen floating around the ship – but the

It made a successful landing at Cape Canaveral. Earlier inspections carried out by the six astronauts of Atlantis that objects spotted near the orbiter haven’t brought damage to the shuttle. NASA was concerned that the items might be debris from an impact that had damaged the shuttle's heat shield or other vital system.

Checking the shuttle's heat protection system was critical, because tile damage led to the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster.

Yuri Karash, space policy expert, tells us more on Russia Today:

“While International Space Station demonstrated its capacity to survive solely on Soyuz and Progress crew rotation and re-supply missions, the resumption of space shuttle flights is important for the completion of the ISS assembly.”

His opinion on Space tourism: “Space tourism is important not only because it generates extra income for space industry but also because it makes ordinary people feel more associated with space exploration thus strengthening popular support for the extraterrestrial activity.”

Yuri adds: “The beauty of NASA approach towards development of Crew Exploration Vehicle – the US next generation spacecraft, is that the agency combines the robustness and reliability of Apollo and some of space shuttle technologies with the modern achievements in science and engineering.”