Delaware North Shares Visitor Complex Plan with National Space Club
Space shuttle Atlantis displayed inside its new home and the Angry Birds Space Encounter will soon greet visitors to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Bill Moore, chief operating officer with Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, gave an update on the progress of new attractions and improvements at the visitor complex during a presentation to National Space Club members and guests on Feb. 12.
Moore said construction continues on the Space Shuttle Atlantis facility, with plans to remove about 16,000 feet of protective plastic wrap and open the shuttle’s payload bay doors in May. The grand opening will be June 29.
“We’re putting Atlantis in a new home so we can tell the story to others,” Moore said. “It’s very fitting that the last shuttle to fly would end up here at Kennedy Space Center.”
Atlantis will be displayed in the largest building that Delaware North has ever built -- about 90,000 square feet, according to Moore. Visitors will see Atlantis tilted at a 43.21 degree angle and about 67 feet off the ground for optimum viewing with its payload bay doors open. One of the shuttle's wings will be only about seven feet off the ground.
The attraction also will include an International Space Station gallery, Hubble Space Telescope display, Atlantis cockpit simulator, children’s play area, retail shop and more than 60 interactive exhibits.
Visitors will pass under actual-size replicas of two solid rocket boosters and an external tank to enter the building.
“We’re not only celebrating the shuttle, but we’re also telling the story of spaceflight here on the East Coast,” Moore said.
Many construction jobs were created, and Moore said about $15.5 million could be generated annually in food, hotel stays and retail sales from the thousands of visitors to the complex.
The new visitor complex entryway near the Rocket Garden recently was completed and a new restaurant, the Rocket Garden Café, was added.
“We’re not at the end of the program, we’re at the beginning,” Moore said. “America will not stop exploring.”
Linda Herridge NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center