CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space Shuttle Atlantis is prepped and ready for its final launch scheduled for Friday, but plans are already in the works to permanently display the orbiter at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida starting in 2013.
Atlantis will be stored in a new 65,000-square-foot facility that will be constructed on the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The $100 million complex, financed through the complex’s ticket and retail sales, will feature the 122-foot long orbiter “suspended” at an angle in flight configuration with its payload bay doors open. Visitors won’t be able to enter the spacecraft but will have a view that only astronauts, VIPs, and members of the media have had of the orbiters throughout their 30 years of operation.
“Plans are under way to create a home for Atlantis that is as much about the thousands of people who have worked on the Space Shuttle Program as the space shuttle itself. Guests will be close enough to almost touch this real space-flown orbiter,” said Bill Moore, Chief Operating Officer of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The exhibit also will offer additional displays about the many accomplishments of the Space Shuttle program, including interactive features on the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.
Space Shuttle Discovery, currently being readied for retirement at the Kennedy Space Center, will be sent to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.
Endeavour will be displayed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Space Shuttle Enterprise, a prototype used to test landing procedures, will be moved from the Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum in New York City.