Space Shuttle Atlantis' New Home to Open June 29
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex recently marked another milestone in the construction of the new home for space shuttle Atlantis by unveiling the official identity for the exhibit and its grand opening date -- June 29.
After weeks of considering many different concepts, the identity that resonated most powerfully with guests of all ages was unveiled -- a simple design stating, "Space Shuttle Atlantis." The logo will appear on monument signage at the entry, on a variety of retail merchandise, and on marketing and promotional materials.
“We are so proud to partner with NASA to build the only place in the world to experience the remarkable voyage of Atlantis -- one of the most storied spacecraft in the U.S. space program,” said Rick Abramson, president of Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts. "Without question, Kennedy Space Center is the best place to experience, learn about and be inspired by space exploration – past, present and future."
Atlantis made the journey to its new home on Nov. 2, 2012, traveling 10 miles from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the $100 million exhibit facility that will showcase the shuttle. Since then, Atlantis was raised 30 feet off the ground and rotated 43 degrees to be displayed as if it were in space. Its nose is 26.5 feet off the ground while its portside wingtip is only 7.5 feet from the floor.
Displays in the 90,000-square-foot facility will tell the compelling story of the entire shuttle program, including the thousands of people working behind the scenes. Exhibits will include the shuttle program's key role in the launch and servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as development of the International Space Station.
More than 60 interactive exhibits and simulators will provide guests a never-before-experienced perspective on the shuttle’s complex systems, components and capabilities. The new facility also will showcase how the shuttle program paved the way for the future of space exploration.
“Although the multimillion-dollar interactive exhibit encompasses much, much more than the display of Atlantis, there is no denying, she is truly the star of the show,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the visitor complex. “We know that this majestic beauty, which safely ferried men and women to space and back on 33 successful missions, is the real reason that our guests will travel thousands of miles … to see her in all her glory."
Mike Konzen, chairman and CEO of St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations, explained that the logo for "Space Shuttle Atlantis" was created with a gradient of fiery oranges representative of the shuttle’s launch and re-entry to Earth. These symbolic colors also were used in the metallic “swish” on the outside of the new exhibit building.
Another milestone in the exhibit’s construction is scheduled to be achieved in March with the beginning of the installation of a full-scale external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters at the entry to Space Shuttle Atlantis. These components of the space shuttle “stack” will serve as a gateway, with guests walking beneath the massive orange external tank, which will be suspended 24 feet above the ground, mounted between the two solid rocket boosters and reaching 185 feet into the air. Installation of the entryway structure will be completed in June.
Construction also continues on schedule inside the exhibit. In May, Atlantis will be unwrapped from the shrink wrap that was applied in November 2012 to protect it from construction dust and debris. The payload bay doors then will be opened and Atlantis’ Canadarm remote manipulator system -- its robotic arm -- also will be installed and extended.
"There are no words to accurately describe the emotions and insights guests will gain when this attraction opens this summer," Moore said. "for there has truly never been anything like it before.”
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center