Few things became the shuttle program as well as its ending. After 135 flights of the snakebit space planes, the shuttle Atlantis took off last July defying the weather as it found a lucky gap in the clouds and launched almost precisely on schedule. Its landing, after 13 days aloft, was equally textbook. It was a time for valedictories for the vehicle itself, the astronauts who flew it and particularly the 14 whose lives the shuttle program claimed. The surviving shuttles will now be museum pieces, a role in which they can do no harm serving as reminders of ingenuity, courage and, alas, bureaucratic folly.