7:57pm UK, Thursday July 21, 2011
Blink and you would have missed it. Atlantis swept in silently and under the cover of darkness - ushering the shuttle programme into the history books.
Atlantis safely touched down bringing an end to the 30-year US shuttle programme
Nasa had resisted calls to delay the landing until daylight had arrived on Florida's 'space coast'.
Instead the sonic booms announced its imminent arrival at the Kennedy Space Centre.
A crowd of some 2000 family members, friends and employees, bussed out to the side of the runway, cheered and applauded as Atlantis flashed past.
When the wheels stopped, the space community and America in general began to reflect on the successes of the shuttle and where the country's space programme goes now.
Atlantis will take its place in a museum at the Kennedy Space Centre.
Its commander Chris Ferguson said: "I want that picture of a young 6-year-old boy looking up at a space shuttle in a museum and say, 'daddy I want to do something like that when I grow up' or 'I want our country to do fantastic things like this for the continued future' and if we set those steps right now and they continue with the next generation of space explorers than I consider our job here complete."
It may be a forlorn hope - America is ambitious about landing on Mars but budget constraints continue to cause concern that the country is falling behind in the space race.
With the shuttles retiring to museums, it will be another three to five years at best before Americans are launched again from US soil and private companies are gearing up to take over fromNasa.
Former astronaut Tom Jones told me it was 'embarrassing' that the US would have to rely on Russian rockets to get Americans into space.
See a 180-degree view of Atlantis and detailed information about the shuttle with our interactive graphic
But last-ditch appeals to keep shuttles flying, made by such legends as Neil Armstrong, fell on deaf ears.
An American flag that flew on the first shuttle flight and returned to orbit aboard Atlantis this time is now at the space station.
The first company to get astronauts there will claim the flag as a prize.
Amid the uncertainty though, for today at least, pride was the over-riding emotion.
"Thank you Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour, and our ship Atlantis, thank you for protecting us and bringing this program to such a fitting end," said the crew.
"The space shuttle has changed the way we view the world and it's changed the way we view our universe."