After 33 missions into space over a 30-year career, NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis has found a permanent base close to home. The shuttle is part of a new $100 million visitor center exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex which will immerse visitors in the experience of space travel.
The exhibit opens June 29 and will weave first-hand accounts from astronauts and flight engineers, along with the history of NASA, into 60 interactive displays. The displays will touch on everything from launches and orbits to how a space station is assembled.
But the centerpiece of the exhibit is Atlantis. Visitors will able to get an up-close, 360-degree view of one of the world's first reusable spacecraft. Robert Z. Pearlman of collectSpace.com recently toured the exhibit during a preview of the grand opening this week.
Atlantis' last mission, STS-135, landed on Runway 15 of the Kennedy Space Center at 5:57 a.m. on July 21, 2011. It was the Shuttle program's final flight.
After being officially retired, Atlantis was moved in November 2012 to the center's visitor complex aboard the 76-wheel Orbiter Transporter System -- at less than 1 mile per hour. It took around 12 hours for the shuttle to make the 9.8-mile trip from the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building to its new museum facility, which opens Friday.