NASA officials announced today that Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has been selected to [URL=http://kennedyspacecenter.com/orbiter-announcement.aspx]permanently display[/URL] space shuttle Atlantis upon retirement of the Space Shuttle Program. Atlantis, one of three orbiters in the space shuttle fleet, will fly the last scheduled space shuttle mission before being retired in 2011.
[b]Above:[/b] [i]A concept drawing showing space shuttle Atlantis as the centerpiece of a new exhibit showcasing the Space Shuttle Program. The display shows the orbiter in its on-orbit configuration, with the cargo bay doors open and robotic arm extended.[/i]
"This is a proud moment for space shuttle workers, Brevard County and Florida," said Bill Moore, Chief Operating Officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, upon news of the announcement. "We are honored to be entrusted with space shuttle Atlantis, to preserve this remarkable national treasure and share the space shuttle story with millions of visitors from around the world."
The $100 million exhibit for Atlantis will be the marquee element of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's 10-year master plan. Initial design concepts for the 65,000 square-foot home for the space-flown orbiter include viewing the space shuttle "in flight," showing how the spacecraft worked in space and providing a unique vantage point for guests to look at the complex vehicle up close. Complementing the orbiter display will be interactive features reflecting major accomplishments of the Space Shuttle Program, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.
About the orbiter home, Moore stated, "Plans are underway 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."
Officials with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex plan to break ground on Atlantis' new home in 2012 with a grand opening planned for 2013. The orbiter home will be located in the Shuttle Plaza at the main Visitor Complex; incorporating the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction.
[b]About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex[/b]
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located just east of Orlando and is the gateway to a working space center and one of Florida's most popular destinations. It's a 70-acre arena of inspirational, educational and entertaining experiences. More than 1.5 million visitors annually tour Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.