KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla – The first steps to opening space shuttle Atlantis’ new digs at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (known by insiders as the KSCVC). Starting at 11 a.m. EDT, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Visitor Complex’s Shuttle Plaza.
The Visitor Complex’s operators, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts held a ceremony to mark the occasion that included guests such as Chris Ferguson, the commander of the STS-135 mission, the final flight of the shuttle program. Also in attendance was Jennifer Carroll, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Florida, Janet Petro, Deputy Director, John F. Kennedy Space Center and Bill Moore the Chief Operating Officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
As it stands, space shuttle Discovery will reside at the Smithsonian’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center located in Virginia. Her younger sister, Endeavour, will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The space shuttle test article, Enterprise, is currently at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center – will be moved to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York.
To date however, none of the other institutions have broken ground on their space shuttle displays yet – making today’s event the first of its kind in the post-shuttle era. The Visitor Complex has announced plans to display Atlantis as if she were in-flight, with her payload bay doors open. Many of the artifacts and elements that symbolized the shuttle era will be positioned alongside the orbiter.
The planned $100 million, exhibit will encompass some 65,000 square feet and is the cornerstone of the Visitor 10-year master plan. This exhibit will tell the story of the shuttle program’s 30-year history and will offer guests one of their first opportunities to see one of the orbiters that ferried astronauts to points in low-Earth-orbit for the past three decades.
Former shuttle astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about shuttle Atlantis – and the promise of future spacecraft.Missions » ISS »