Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit Honors 30-Year NASA Program

Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex Photo

Now open on Florida’s Space Coast, the $100 million Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit features over 60 interactive experiences and celebrates the people, passion and patriotism behind the shuttle program.

“It’s true that there is more than one space shuttle orbiter out there, but there is nowhere else on Earth like Space Shuttle Atlantis,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in the Miami Herald.

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The 90,000-square-foot Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit is not funded by tax dollars or appropriated funds but by ticket, food and merchandise sales – part of a 10-year master plan developed by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, operator of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA since 1995.

Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11 and includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour, which features the Apollo/Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket, the new Angry Birds™ Space Encounter, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and other interactive exhibits.

“This completely immersive experience is about much more than seeing Atlantis close up,” said Moore. “With hi-fi replicas, simulators and interactive activities touching on all aspects of the shuttle program and its accomplishments, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station, it’s the closest guests can get to living and working in space – short of applying to the astronaut corps.”

Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia.

Space Shuttle Home Nears Completion In Florida

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle Atlantis has a new home in Florida that is nearing completion. As the latest Space Coast attraction, the new $100-million home of the historic spacecraft will launch June 29 at Kennedy Space Center. Far more than a place to store the used orbiter, the new facility will offer visitors unprecedented access to what was once highly classified hardware, uniquely displayed.

This unique experience delivers extraordinary access to Space Shuttle Atlantis, positioned as if it were in space as only astronauts have seen it before. Suspended 30 feet above ground and rotated at slightly less than a 45-degree angle, Atlantis will have her payload bay doors open and robotic arm (Canadarm) extended. Visitors will be able to view the orbiter from below or via a raised surrounding platform.

With 33 missions in space to the credit of Space Shuttle Atlantis, the exterior has been left as-is for visitors to see the wear on its protective external tiles. Over 60 supporting and interactive exhibits plus high-tech simulators tell the story of NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program and the amazing engineering that transformed the way humans explore space. Prominently featured is the shuttle program’s role in building the International Space Station as well as the launch and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope.While the newest attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex, Atlantis is just one feature to be enjoyed by visitors. The Shuttle Launch Experience simulates what it is like to blast off into space. The Rocket Garden features Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space, alongside Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules. The Astronaut Training Experience brings visitors realistic astronaut training.

Other exhibits trace the history of America’s space program from its beginning and get into the future of space exploration. Far from a relic of another time and a different NASA focus, the Atlantis exhibit promises to complete an experience that fans of space travel may have only dreamed of until now.

Better yet, the Kennedy Space Center website has a rich array of interactive content including a “countdown until the next launch” timer and an Ask An Astronaut feature that invites visitors to pose questions to those who have actually been there and done that.

About the only part of the space shuttle program that visitors won’t see is an actual launch, but we have one of those for you here in this video:




[Image credit – Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex]

Space Shuttle Atlantis Move Scheduled, Public Invited

space shuttle atlantis

Space Shuttle Atlantis will make one more trip in November. No engines will fire. No astronauts will be on board. No visit to the International Space Station will be made. Still, the last voyage of Atlantis will a memorable one and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSC) is inviting us along for the ride.

A series of events, open to the public, are centered around the 10 miles rolling trip from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to the Visitor Complex atop the Orbiter Transporter System (OTS). It all begins on Friday, November 2, 2012, with “Atlantis – Celebrate the Journey” events that will mark Atlantis’ last voyage.

A variety of packages include admission to KSC (a $50 value) and round-trip transportation to Exploration Park. There, visitors will enjoy astronaut appearances, interactive exhibits, displays of spaceflight hardware from past, current and future programs. Exhibitors scheduled to attend include Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX and XCOR Aerospace.

Atlantis Adventure Package: features the opportunity to view and photograph Atlantis in 360 degrees from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., an opportunity to see Atlantis travel along the roadway and enter the orbiter home from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and a KSC Up-Close: Launch Pad tour, which takes visitors a quarter-mile within the perimeter security fence of Launch Pad 39-A to enjoy close-up views of the 350-foot-high launch pad.
Cost: $115 adult/$105 child (ages 3-11) plus tax.

Explorer Package: features the opportunity to view and photograph Atlantis in 360 degrees from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and an opportunity to see Atlantis travel along the roadway and enter the orbiter home from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $90 adult/$80 child (ages 3-11) plus tax.

Lift-off Package: features an opportunity to see Atlantis travel along the roadway and enter the orbiter home from 5 to 6 p.m. along with the KSC Up-Close: Launch Pad tour
Cost: $75 adult/$59 child (ages 3-11) plus tax.

Rollover Package: features special exhibits as well as the Kennedy Space Center Tour, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted, U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® and all exhibits during the day. Later, visitors get the opportunity to see Atlantis travel along the roadway and enter the orbiter home from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Cost: $50 adult/$40 child (ages 3-11) plus tax.

At the end of the day, Atlantis will arrive at her new $100 million permanent home, set to open in summer 2013. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or KennedySpaceCenter.com.



NASA photo

National Geographic celebrates the last space shuttle mission ever

Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted off on its last mission everYesterday morning, at 11:30 AM Eastern Time, the Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted off on the last shuttle mission ever. For fans and proponents of space exploration, it was a bittersweet moment to say the least. To celebrate what truly is the end of an era, National Geographic has updated their Space Shuttle Hub page with a look back at the storied vehicle’s tragic and triumphant history.

At various times, NASA‘s fleet of space shuttles has included five different vehicles, including the Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor. The Nat Geo page covers all of them, and even has articles discussing the two orbiters that were lost – the Challenger, which exploded shortly after take-off back in 1986 and Columbia, which tragically burned up on re-entry in 2003. Other articles celebrate the many achievements of the shuttle program over the three decades they have been in service however, giving the remaining three vehicles the final send-off they richly deserve.

During this final flight of the Atlantis, National Geographic space editor Victoria Jaggard will also be posting regular blog updates on the progress of the mission. She has already covered the launch and will continue to add more thoughts and commentary until the shuttle returns to Earth in about two weeks time.

Tomorrow, the Atlantis is scheduled to rendezvous with the International Space Station one final time. While there, the astronauts on board will resupply the ISS and perform routine maintenance on the station, which will be serviced by Russian Soyuz spacecraft in the foreseeable future.

Second-to-last Space Shuttle launch is big tourism draw

Space Shuttle, Space Shuttle Endeavour
Tomorrow’s launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour has turned into a major tourist event, the Associated Press reports. NASA estimates half a million people will show up for their second-to-last chance to see a shuttle launch. Other estimates vary from 250,000 to a whopping 700,000. That could rival the crowds that came to see the first Moon mission.

Hotels are sold out and homeowners near John F. Kennedy Space Center are reaping the benefits by renting out spare rooms. Local businesses are also seeing a boom. The AP estimates the launch could pump $15 million into the local economy.

Let’s hope so, because when the last shuttle goes into space this summer, there won’t be any more launches for quite some time. NASA hasn’t finished developing anything to replace the aging shuttle fleet and transport to the International Space Station will be the job of the Russians for the time being.

The Endeavour launch is scheduled for 3:47 EDT tomorrow. It will be mission number 134 for the fleet. The final mission will take place June 28 or later and the honor will go to the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

I’m not surprised this is getting so much attention. I grew up with the Space Shuttle and I’ve always wanted to go to a launch. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll make it. I’ll be cheering, though, especially for mission commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot by a crazed gunman in January. She’s recovered enough to be present when Kelly heads for the stars.

I’ve never met Kelly, but I have met Gabrielle Giffords. She’s the younger sister of a college friend and I met her twenty years ago when she was a bright young Fulbright scholar. While I only chatted with her a few times I always had the impression she’d go far. My friend and I drifted apart, as college friends often do, but over the years I always paid attention to Gabrielle’s career. I wasn’t surprised in the least when she became a Congresswoman. And I won’t be surprised if I see her back in Congress one day.

Have a speedy recovery, Gabrielle, and enjoy the launch for me.

[Image courtesy NASA]