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Lift and Tilt Prepares Atlantis for Display at Visitor Complex
Space shuttle Atlantis is lifted and tilted into its display position

Image above: Construction work continues on space shuttle Atlantis' new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Nov. 27. Inside the building, Atlantis, still in its protective shrink-wrap covering, has been lifted 26 feet above ground level and tilted at a 43.21 angle to the portside. Image credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
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Positioned near the center of its new home, space shuttle Atlantis, still in its protective shrink wrap, is surrounded by scaffolding and ascending concrete floors as construction continues on the 90,000-square-foot exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

In mid-November, engineers, technicians and heavy-lift specialists from Ivey's Construction, Beyel Brothers, and BRPH, along with technical support from United Space Alliance, raised Atlantis 26 feet from the ground level.

This feat was achieved using support equipment from Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facilities, four 800-ton jacks provided by Beyel, and large blocks of wood, or dunnage, to gradually elevate Atlantis into position.

In late November, Atlantis, minus its wheels and tires, was slowly tilted to exactly a 43.21 angle to the portside atop steel stands. Its portside wingtip is only 7.5 feet off the ground, while its nose is 26.5 feet off the ground. The front and aft beams are attached to Atlantis at locations used for shuttle ferry flights.

About two months earlier, Ivey's performed a test lift at Beyel Brothers' Cocoa site using a steel shell filled with enough concrete blocks to simulate the orbiter's weight.

Ivey's project manager Steve Sergis said the test went very well with no unexpected problems.

"Our history with Kennedy goes back 40 years," Sergis said. "Getting Atlantis into position for display has been an honor for us. We have a great team."

"This angle will allow optimum viewing of Atlantis with its payload bay doors open," said Tim Macy, the director of project development and construction for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at the visitor complex.

Lifting and tilting would not have been possible if the building had not been ready, according to Macy.

"Crews worked three shifts at times to make sure that everything above Atlantis was 98 percent complete," Macy said. "That way we don't have to work over her and risk damage to the vehicle."

"This has been a huge engineering feat," said Andrea Farmer, senior public relations manager at the visitor complex. "We took our time to be very careful along the way."

"I think we are, as a team, cognizant of our responsibility to tell the story that would make everybody that was involved in the project proud. We are excited about the possibilities for the future," Macy said.

Farmer added, "Atlantis will tell the 30-year history of NASA's Space Shuttle Program for years to come and inspire generations."

Macy said the construction team is very aware that Atlantis is important to those who work on her and those living in the region.
Linda Herridge
Kennedy Space Center