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Atlantis Readied for Move to Kennedy Visitor Complex
10.23.12
 
Atlantis Move to VAB

Image above: Employees monitor the space shuttle Atlantis as it moves from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building. Atlantis will be transported to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in November where it will be placed on public display. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann
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Atlantis Hatch Closing

Image above: Inside Bay 2 of the Orbiter Processing, United Space Alliance technicians Dave Chodkowski, left, and Gary Hamilton, close and seal space shuttle Atlantis’ crew hatch for the final time. Over the course of its 26-year career, Atlantis spent 293 days in space during 33 shuttle missions. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin
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The Oct. 17 move of the space shuttle Atlantis from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building gave employees at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida an opportunity to celebrate. The milestone completed preparations for display at Kennedy's visitor complex. Atlantis will remain in the VAB on display until it is transported to its final home at Kennedy's visitor complex early next month.

During the move, Atlantis stopped on the towway for a photo opportunity. For several hours there was a constant crowd of Kennedy employees who brought cameras to take pictures with the shuttle prior to its move to the visitor complex, slated for early November. Adding to the festive nature, representatives from the NASA Exchange were on hand with ice cream and other refreshments.

Buddy McKenzie, the USA manager for Atlantis' forward and midbody looks forward to seeing the shuttle on display in the new museum. "If seeing Atlantis on display inspires even one young child, then it's all worth it," McKenzie said. "It's not the end -- I think of it as a beginning."

Preparations for the move to Atlantis' new home included closing of the crew hatch on Atlantis on Oct. 11.

As he did with the final hatch closure on Endeavour, Bob Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center and a former space shuttle commander, lent a hand in bay 2 of the Orbiter Processing Facility as United Space Alliance, or USA, technicians Danny Brown and Dave Chodkowski performed the task. Cabana turned the special T-shaped tool, which is much like a key, to lock the hatch in place.

Through this crew hatch, 207 astronauts passed to enter Atlantis and take their seats for launch on 33 space shuttle missions.

"This is the end of an era," Cabana said. "Atlantis is going to have a really nice home at the Visitor Complex.”

"The team preparing Atlantis for display has used the same pride and integrity they had as Atlantis was readied for each flight," said Bart Pannullo, NASA's Transition and Retirement vehicle manager.

"Atlantis is the last space shuttle at Kennedy, the last vehicle to fly," said McKenzie who helped direct the hatch closing. "It's fitting that as the caretakers, we deliver it to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex."

The move to the museum being built especially for the historic spacecraft is scheduled for Nov. 2.

Cabana was looking even further ahead.

"The good side of this is that Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour will be able to tell the space shuttle story to millions for years to come," he said.

 
 
Linda Herridge
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center