FORT WORTH, Texas (July 21, 2011) – The Atlantis space shuttle touched down safely at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Thursday morning and it also marked the return of the Texas Motor Speedway “No Limits” flag that was on board for that historic final mission.
Atlantis STS-135 Pilot Doug Hurley, a season ticket holder at Texas Motor Speedway, honored the speedway by taking the 4x6-foot flag on the 13-day mission to the International Space Station. The flag traveled 5,284,862 miles and 200 complete orbits on the 135th and final mission of NASA's 30-year space shuttle program that was guided by Hurley, Commander Christopher Ferguson and Mission Specialists Rex Walheim and Sandra Magnus.
“It is a tremendous honor for Texas Motor Speedway and our sport to be part of the final manned mission to space,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “Astronauts and race car drivers are similar – smart, daring, analytical and driven for success. We are proud of what NASA has accomplished, proud of the Space Shuttle program and proud of our friend, astronaut Doug Hurley.”
Hurley also invited Gossage and Texas Motor Speedway Vice President of Media Relations Mike Zizzo as his guests for the July 8 launch of Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center. Gossage and Zizzo had the opportunity to visit with Hurley and the crew the day prior to the launch during a special “family & friends” tour to the launch pad area. The next day the two watched the launch from a designated area outside Kennedy Space Center’s Apollo/Saturn V building.
“It was amazing to see the final Space Shuttle launch in person and bittersweet to see it land today,” Gossage said.
“Having lived in nearby Cocoa Beach, the space program and the people involved with it are close to my heart,” Zizzo said. “I’ve had the opportunity to witness two launches and it is truly a tremendous mix of power and beauty. I can’t thank Doug enough for the opportunity to be there for the final launch of the space shuttle program.”
Texas Motor Speedway will announce plans at a later date of the presentation of the “No Limits” flag from Hurley to the speedway.