July 2nd, 2013 1:41 PM by Brent Ferry
The world’s most comprehensive attraction devoted to NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program, Space Shuttle AtlantisSM, opened its doors to the public over the weekend at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Come nose to nose with Atlantis as if it were floating in space – tilted at a 43.21 degree angle with payload bay doors open and its robotic arm extended as if it has just undocked from the International Space Station (ISS).
The Atlantis is one of three space-flown orbiters distributed by NASA to science centers and museums throughout the country. The $100 million, 90,000 sq. ft. attraction is the centerpiece of the Visitor Complex’s 10-year master plan.
Guests are greeted by a full-scale, 184-foot-tall vertical replica of the space shuttle’s external tank and two solid rocket boosters at the entrance. The building “features two sweeping architectural elements, or “wings,” representing the space shuttle’s launch and return. The outer layer of the building, cloaked in iridescent hues of orange and gold, represents the fiery glow of re-entry. The taller, internal wing of the building is covered in a shimmering gray tile pattern representing the tiled underside of the orbiter.” Inside, visitors are invited to “be the astronaut”. Perform an extravehicular activity (EVA), Operate the 250-ton crane in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), Create sonic booms and pilot Atlantis to a safe landing, Train like an astronaut, Kick up a chemical reaction and create a launch, Get an “X-ray view” of Atlantis’ control systems, Sneak a (virtual) peek inside, Experience an orbital sunrise, Step aboard the International Space Station, Float in space, Go orbital, Bring to life shuttle program highlights, Take the helm in the space shuttle cockpit, See what it’s like to sleep upside down, Sit on the space potty, See what it’s like to live and work aboard the International Space Station, Gaze into deep space, Track the International Space Station, and more through four multimedia and cinematic productions and over 60 interactive experiences including high-tech simulators. The Shuttle Launch Experience, which opened in 2007, is also part of the new Space Shuttle AtlantisSM exhibit.