CitySurfing Orlando was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the new construction at the Kennedy Visitor Center that will house space shuttle Atlantis which was moved on November 2, 2012.
Although not a lot of specifics are being released to the public yet, we can report that the project is budgeted at around $100 million.
The new building will be about 90,000 square feet of space to show off not only Atlantis, but hardware associated with the launch pad (remember the “beanie cap” that was raised from the external tank right before launch? They’ve got the actual one from Pad 39B on exhibit!) and models of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as lots of hands-on interactive exhibits.
Our hardhat tour was led by Tim Macy, Director of Project Development & Construction for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Mr. Macy has a very impressive background in working with public displays, including developing and planning of Olympic facilities in Atlanta and Sydney, and managing Navy Pier in Chicago.
He has been involved with preparing the Atlantis facility for over 2 years, and is excited to have Atlantis finally arrive at her permanent home. He told of the exceptional care that is being taken to ensure that Atlantis will be maintained as a national treasure for future generations, including special LED lighting that won’t harm the orbiter with ultraviolet or infrared rays.
Visitors will enter the building by walking between a mock-up of 2 solid rocket boosters, under an attached external tank, and then through various exhibits in a switchback configuration, taking them higher in the building. After turning a corner they will suddenly come face-to-face with Atlantis, poised as though in space flight, with her bay doors open.
There will be handheld units that allow a virtual view under the skin of the orbiter, with an almost x-ray vision. From there, guests can walk around, even underneath the Atlantis, and enjoy all of the other exhibits and displays that tell the story of the 30 year Shuttle program, as well as giving a view of what we can expect in future space exploration.
There are lots of other exciting surprises that will await those that visit the exhibit when it opens in July of 2013.
Be sure to check out our coverage of the final move of Atlantis. We’ll have pictures and coverage from the time Atlantis leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building, until she arrives at the Visitor Center after a 10 mile journey.
Here are some photos from the tour of the future home of Atlantis:
[photos by Kirk Garreans]