Atlantis, the last U.S. space shuttle is returning back home.

Atlantis on Tuesday departed the International Space Station and slipped away after a partial lap around the station.

Chris Ferguson shuttle Atlantis commander and pilot Doug Hurley gently pulsed their spaceship's steering jets at 2:28 a.m. EDT to depart from the station as they
sailed about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean.

Thanks so much for hosting us, Ferguson radioed to the station crew. It's been an absolute pleasure.

We'll miss you guys, replied station flight engineer Ron Garan. See you back on Earth.

More than 5 tons of food, clothing, equipment and science experiments, was delivered by Ferguson and his team in their nine-day visit to the station.

Atlantis' return to Earth, scheduled for Thursday, will conclude the 30-year-old U.S. space shuttle program, with no replacement U.S. spaceships ready to fly, Reuters

NASA managers said that weather looks favorable for Atlantis' planned pre-dawn landing at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at 5:56 a.m. EDT on Thursday.

In broad terms the weather looks very good, said LeRoy Cain, deputy shuttle program manager. We have a very good chance to get into KSC on Thursday.