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Smiles not tears at Mission Control at the end

Thursday, July 21, 2011
Space Shuttle Atlantis lands at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Thursday, July 21, 2011. The landing of Atlantis marks the end of NASAs 30 year space shuttle program. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Applause erupted at NASA's Mission Control in Houston when the last space shuttle landed -- but it wasn't from the two dozen men and one woman working the final flight.

The applause and emotion came from the flight controllers' families. The controllers themselves didn't show any reaction immediately, busy working the final landing of the 30-year shuttle program in Florida.

But nine minutes later, the emotions started to come to the surface. That's when controllers stood up, shook hands, laughed a bit, patted each on their backs and signed memorabilia.

Even though some of them will lose their jobs and the shuttle era ended, tears were absent.

(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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