“As we prepare for the final spaceflights in 2011, I feel really lucky, proud and honoured to have been part of this programme. For me, the Shuttle will remain the most remarkable machine invented by humans.
"It does it all: it launches like a rocket; it orbits like a laboratory for research, a workshop for satellite repairs, or an outpost for exploration and spacewalks; it flies like a glider for reentry and lands on wheels like an aircraft.
"I have loved my spaceship because she was my ultimate life protection against such a hostile and extreme environment. She took care of my crewmates and me, allowing us to admire our planet Earth like no other spaceships had done before. I’ll remember most the fantastic view through the windows of the flight deck. But I’ll remember also the feeling of gigantic power at liftoff, and the smooth atmospheric entry surrounded by the flashing orange plasma.
"The last time I ‘kicked’ the tyres of the Shuttle was in 2001, when her first Commander John Young invited me to join him for a T-38 flight to the Cape just to see her and meet the ground team readying her for the next flight.
"I feel I’ve been part of a legend, and the experience has been so intense that I’ll have a hard time to believe that I have truly lived all these emotions for real. Thanks John, thanks Atlantis, thanks Discovery.”