Last week, the space shuttle orbiter Atlantis was officially turned over to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, with a fireworks finale. Atlantis was then able to be viewed inside the new gallery building for one week only. The building will now be sealed, and the adjacent displays completed. Atlantis won’t be able to be viewed again until next summer 2013. Here are photos and a video from this limited time viewing opportunity.
Discovery in Washington, D.C. is displayed as if it had just landed. Endeavour in Los Angeles will be displayed vertically, as if ready for launch. Atlantis will be displayed as if in orbit.
One of the gallery displays is of the “beanie” that sat on top of the external tank prior to launch. The beanie delivered liquid propellants to the tank, and vented gases. The beanie is already installed in the building.
Here’s the beanie that is still at pad 39A. There used to be two shuttle launch pads. The beanie in the gallery is from the dismantled pad 39B, which was dismantled to make it available for the commercial space programs.
A new display at the Visitor Center is a model of one of the commercial space programs in development. This spacecraft would be the nose cone of a rocket, carrying astronauts to the International Space Station. The craft would return to earth much like the Shuttle orbiters, gliding to a runway.
Here’s a look at Atlantis’ final journey and the fireworks show for her: