Please welcome back guest author Jessica Floria:
Words cannot describe the feelings that encompass you when experiencing the new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center for the first time, or even the second or third time. More than 10 companies were responsible for bringing this exhibit to life. From construction of the building, moving the shuttle in and tilting it to the right angle to the cinematic pre-shows, simulators and overall lighting and sound of the building these companies worked closely together for more than a year to perfect their one common goal; presenting the story of Atlantis and displaying it with the honor it deserves. When asked what each company was most proud of, representatives of the companies did not state their role in the exhibit. Instead each glowed and gestured towards Atlantis.
Guest begin their experience by walking underneath a full scale, 184 foot tall, replica of the shuttle’s external tank and two solid rocket boosters. Once inside the building guests are taken into the pre-show area for two cinematic and multimedia productions that show the journey of Atlantis, from a paper shuttle to the extraordinary orbiter it became. After the two shows, Atlantis looms before you in all of its beauty and wonder. Suspended in air at a 43.21 degree angle with its payload bay doors open and its Canadarm out ready to work, guests get views of the shuttle only seen before in space.
After spending several mesmerizing moments (or hours) gazing at the shuttle guests are invited to participate in more than 60 activities, simulators and touch screen experiences housed in the building with Atlantis. Experience everything from creating a launch, sitting on the “space potty”, training like an astronaut to creating a sonic boom, landing the space shuttle and seeing how life is on the International Space Station. Also housed in this magnificent exhibit is a full sized replica of the Hubble Space Telescope, complete with a cinematic production telling the story of the telescope and Atlantis’s role in getting it into space.
The exhibit just opened with a press event and grand opening ceremony. On hand were NASA administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts president Rick Abramson and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex chief operating officer, Bill Moore.
“It’s true that there is more than one space shuttle orbiter out there, but there is nowhere else on Earth like Space Shuttle Atlantis,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “This completely immersive experience is about much more than seeing Atlantis close up. With hi-fi replicas, simulators and interactive activities touching on all aspects of the shuttle program and its accomplishments, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station, it’s the closest guests can get to living and working in space – short of applying to the astronaut corps.”
Space Shuttle Atlantis is included in Kennedy Space Center’s general admission of $50 plus tax for adults and $40 plus tax for children 3-11. As part of the Year of Atlantis, Kennedy Space Center is offering its annual pass at a discounted rate for $55 plus tax for adults and $45 plus tax for children 3-11 when purchased by phone or online. Gate price for the annual pass is $63 plus tax for adults and $53 plus tax for children 3-11.
Thanks to Jessica for the artice and to Jason Mayhew for photos and video.