January 19, 2012
Permanent Home For Atlantis Under Construction
Construction on Space Shuttle Atlantis' permanent home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida is now underway.
NASA broke ground on Wednesday to officially launch construction of a new 65,000-square-foot exhibit at the complex's Space Shuttle Plaza, where Atlantis will be held.
"It is an honor to create the home for space shuttle Atlantis and to work with NASA to tell its story to the world," Jeremy Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Delaware North Companies, which operates the visitor complex for NASA, said in a statement.
Atlantis took astronauts from Earth to orbit from October 1985 to July 2011. It was the first spacecraft to dock with the Russian space station Mir and helped aid the construction of the International Space Station.
The new facility for the 25-year-old space shuttle is expected to open in 2013.
"It's very fortunate we can celebrate this milestone, fortunate we had the foresight and the resources to preserve Atlantis to serve as a reminder of the limitless potential of the citizens of the United States of America, and inspire those who will come after us," Chris Ferguson, who commanded Atlantis on its final mission, said in a statement.
NASA said Atlantis will be displayed as if it were in flight with its payload bay doors open, offering a view of its 60-foot-long cargo space.
The space agency will also have a variety of simulators and interactive elements for visitors to use in order to experience the challenge of "grappling a satellite or move through a model of the International Space Station."
Atlantis flew about 126 million miles during a total of 307 days in space. It returned to Earth after its final mission on July 21, 2011.
The engines of all of the space shuttles that have been retired are being replaced with mock-ups, while the real engines are being saved for use on a new heavy-lift rocket system.
Space shuttle Discovery is destined for the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, while Endeavour is headed to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
Image 1: This initial design concept for the new exhibit showcases Atlantis as though it were in flight. Artist rendering courtesy of PGAV Destinations for Delaware North Parks & Resorts
Image 2: This artist rendering reveals a full-scale external tank and twin solid rocket booster replicas standing at the exhibit entrance. Artist rendering courtesy of PGAV Destinations for Delaware North Parks & Resorts
Image 3: A groundbreaking ceremony officially begins construction on space shuttle Atlantis' new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Image credit: NASA
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