Aug 11, 2011 10:50 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The four astronauts who flew into history last month after completing the 135th and final space shuttle mission have visited New Orleans to thank employees at the Michoud Assembly Facility for their work in getting them into space.
The Times-Picayune reports Wednesday's visit was a joyous tradition following a safe shuttle landing, but this one was tinged with sadness.
As Michoud employees lined up to have the astronauts autograph everything from flags to dolls, it was with the knowledge that many of them would no longer be working at the site in a few months.
Many of the employees work for government contractor Lockheed Martin.
The final space shuttle mission means an end to hundreds of jobs.
The Michoud facility manufactured the external fuel tank used by the shuttle.