One thing about the end of space shuttle flight: Everyone has an opinion. A look at some of the views from those close to the space program:
"The shuttle is always going to be a reflection of what a great nation can do when it dares to be bold and commits to follow through."
_Atlantis commander Christopher Ferguson just before launch.
"We've got a lot of work to do. We've got another program that we've got to get under way. ... We know what we're doing. We know how to get there. We've just got to convince everybody else that we know what we're doing."
_NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to workers after liftoff.
"Those vehicles, in my opinion, could fly for another 30 years and could be flown safely."
_Robert Crippen, pilot of the first space shuttle flight.
"NASA doesn't have a story right now. Exploration is nothing if not the articulation of a great story."
_ Astronaut John Grunsfeld, who helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope three times.
"I think the shuttle program is ending exactly as it should. We built the International Space Station... and we finished really strong."
_Mike Moses, chairman of the mission management team for liftoff.
"People wanted to get rid of the space shuttle and so they have done so. They have done so in condemning it in many different ways, all of which in my opinion were false."
_Christopher Kraft, founder of Mission Control.
"There is no embarrassment in setting the bar impossibly high and then failing to clear it. What matters is that we strived mightily to do so."
_Astronaut Duane Carey.
"The biggest spinoff (of the shuttle program) in terms of belief in a better future _ the adrenaline we get from doing something other than dropping bombs."
_ Astronaut Mae Jemison, first black woman in space.
"It's a strategic mistake for the United States ... to replace the space shuttle for nothing."
_ Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.
"I gotta get back to work. We've got a lot more work to do."
_ Garrett Reisman, ex-astronaut and commercial crew manager for Space Exploration Technologies Corp., which is developing new spacecraft and rockets.
"When we look back on it I think it was the perfect vehicle for its time."
_ John Glenn, the first American in orbit, who also flew a shuttle in 1998.
"It'll be sad to see it retired. But we are looking forward to new spacecraft, new destinations. We're all excited about the future."
_ Mark Kelly, commander of the next-to-last-space shuttle flight.
"Winston Churchill said: 'This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. It is perhaps the end of the beginning.' That's what I think of all the time... We're going to the next chapter."
_ NASA chief technology officer Bobby Braun.
"It's the end of a career, not the beginning of a new one. What we lack is the beginning of a new one."
_ George Mueller, former NASA official often called the father of the space shuttle program.