Atlantis Exhibit Makes Weekend Debut
Orbiter Atlantis, a veteran of 33 NASA shuttle missions, goes on public display in Central Florida on Saturday as the centerpiece of a $100 million Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex exhibit.
More than 40 astronauts, including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, will be among those participating in the grand opening of the exhibit entitled Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Atlantis flew the space agency’s final shuttle mission in July 2011. During its long career, Atlantis and her crews helped to assemble the International Space Station, upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, transport U. S. as well as Russian astronauts to and from the Mir space station and launched the Galileo probe on its way to Jupiter.
Orbiters Discovery and Endeavour have already made their way to public displays at the Smithsonian Institution’sStephenF.Edgar-Hazy Center near the Dulles International Airport in suburban Washington and the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The test orbiter Enterpriseis scheduled to re-open for public display in July aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York Cityas well, following repairs to damage imparted to the floating museum by Super Storm Sandy.
Space Shuttle Atlantis offers a dramatic, multi-media presentation. The spacecraft is suspended and angled so that visitors may examine the orbiter from every angle. All the scars and other signs of wear and tear from her many missions were left to depict the spacecraft’s ruggedness.
Dozens of multi-media presentations will allow visitors to explore the shuttle programs history and get to know the many people from across the United States who contributed to its success.
Space Shuttle Atlantis is the culmination of years of development by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts and St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations, in partnership with NASA. The attraction is included in regular admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which is not supported by tax dollars.
The new exhibit also touches on NASA’s future, with a model of the Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle that is under development by the agency for future missions of human deep space exploration. A scale model of Dream Chaser, the winged lifting body that Sierra Nevada Corp. is developing in partnership with NASA as a commercial means of flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station and a SpaceX Merlin engine of the kind that powers the Falcon 9 first stage will be on display as well.