The space shuttle Atlantis this morning (July 21) touched down safely at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, watched by thousands of wistful onlookers through the early morning gloom.
The mission brings to an end NASA's space shuttle programme, which began in 1981 with Columbia's first mission.
Commander John Young's space-flown flight suit patches from that first mission recently achieved $56,762 at auction, evidence that while space shuttles may no longer be taking to the skies, collectibles related with these incredible flying machines could be of great value in years to come.
The public's love for the shuttles and the sense of nostalgia that will grow over time should ensure that demand for shuttle collectibles will increase over time.
This is especially the case in the US, where the future of the country's space programme is uncertain.
We have witnessed several notable shuttle memorabilia sales of late.
Earlier this year an insulator panel flown aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger during its STS-41G mission in October 1984, complete with its NASA paperwork, sold for $7,550 at a Lunar Legacies auction.
Even models can sell. An early shuttle replica based on initial design concepts achieved $23,180 at auction in 2009.
We strongly expect memorabilia from this historic final flight to make a considerable impact on the space collectibles market over the coming years, although the shuttle itself won't be available for collectors to bid on.
Atlantis will find a permanent home at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where she will inspire a new generation of space enthusiasts keen to collect the finest space memorabilia.
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