Stunning Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center [51 PICS]

July 1st, 2013 Permalink

The new Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened to the public on June 29, but we had the pleasure of a surprise early viewing—a soft opening—on June 20. I was so extremely excited that I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning about to receive a dream gift. Seeing Atlantis, payload bay doors open—a sight that only astronauts could previously witness—was such a moving and inspirational sight that it brought tears to my eyes. Of course it doesn’t hurt that we are big fans of NASA, all things space-related, and Atlantis. If you missed it, then you might be inclined to check out NASA Nostalgia: 42 Favorite Photos of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Over the course of its 26-year career, Atlantis traveled 125,935,769 miles, completed 33 missions and spend 307 days in space. This amazing craft and her crew helped repair the Hubble Telescope, so there is also a full-size Hubble replica in the building. If you are curious about life on the International Space Station, you can view replicas and learn much more about that as well. There’s more than 60 interactive experiences, with multimedia walls, simulators and augmented reality viewers. Here’s a look at the Space Shuttle Atlantis Attraction, the newest way to be truly dazzled at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, as well as some great shots of the space shuttle in action. [51 Photos]

Atlantis Aerial View

If you love NASA, then you’ll love this. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has a priceless view in store for visitors: “When guests visit the new Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, they will be treated to a sight previously seen only by astronauts in space – Atlantis tilted at a 43.21-degree angle with its payload bay doors open as if it has just undocked from the International Space Station (ISS). The 90,000 square-foot Atlantis attraction is the marquee element of the Visitor Complex’s 10-year master plan.” Photo #1 by NASA

Space Shuttle Atlantis Entrance

Space Shuttle Atlantis Entrance. Massive doesn’t even begin to sum up how huge those true-to-life-sized shuttle stacks are. Photo #2 by NASA


space shuttle Atlantis is seen on launch pad 39a of the NASA Kennedy Space Center shortly after the rotating service structure was rolled back, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009

When you combine the stacks and space shuttle, you may better remember Atlantis like this, as seen on launch pad 39a of the NASA Kennedy Space Center shortly after the rotating service structure was rolled back, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009, Cape Canaveral, FL. Photo #3 by NASA / Bill Ingalls

View of Atlantis with payload bay doors open

Atlantis officially opened to the public on June 29, but we had the pleasure of an early viewing on June 20; it was such a moving and inspirational sight that it brought tears to my eyes. KSC writes, “It’s a view only astronauts on the International Space Station have experienced before – and one you’ll never forget. After 33 successful missions to space and back, Space Shuttle Atlantis is home. This spectacular $2 billion orbiter is the main attraction of a new six-story, $100 million, 90,000 square-foot exhibit that celebrates the people and accomplishments of America’s incredible 30-year shuttle program.” Photo #4 by Kennedy Space Center / NASA

At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, space shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay doors are open and the robotic arm has been installed in the payload bay

Atlantis’ payload bay doors are open and the robotic arm was installed in the payload bay. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) asked, did you know?…Miles traveled by Atlantis in space: 125,935,769. Photo #5 by NASA

Space Shuttle Atlantis and full scale replica of the Hubble Space Telescope

The Space Shuttle Atlantis facility exhibits include the shuttle’s key role in the launch and servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as construction of the International Space Station. KSC wrote, “You’ll marvel at the breathtaking images in the Hubble Space Telescope Theater, experience life in space inside the International Space Station Gallery and be awestruck by the power of the Shuttle Launch Experience. It’s an unforgettable, hands-on space adventure for explorers of all ages.” Photo #6 by NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope lifted out of the payload bay of Atlantis, moments before it is released into space following the successful repair mission of STS-125

On 20 May 2009: The Hubble Space Telescope lifted out of the payload bay of Atlantis, moments before it was released into space following the successful repair mission of STS-125. Photo #7 by NASA

Hubble replica at KSC, Atlantis exhibit

The full-scale replica of the Hubble Telescope is 43-feet-tall and hangs through an opening in the second floor. We were told that the Hubble replacement, The James Webb Space Telescope, makes the Hubble look tiny like a Tinkertoy in comparison. Photo #8 by NASA / Jim Grossmann

Space Shuttle Atlantis Attraction Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

“Space Shuttle Atlantis Attraction, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Unified Field’s designers, programmers, writers, and 3D modelers crafted 11 interactive programs for the $100 million Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction, which features more than 60 interactive experiences, including multimedia walls, simulators and augmented reality viewers.” Photo #9 by Unified Field

Moments before getting up close and personal with Atlantis Space Shuttle

Moments before getting up close and personal with Atlantis, which is humongous! Length is 122.17 feet (37.2 m); Height is 56.58 feet (17.2 m); Wingspan is 78.06 feet (23.7 m). Photo #10 by Love These Pics

250 people at a time are run through to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis

Then “250 people at a time are run through #ShuttleAtlantis.” Photo #11 by Robert Neff

Kennedy Space Center, Atlantis

New $100M Atlantis Exhibit at KSC as seen from NASA guided tour bus. Photo #12 by Love These Pics

Atlantis lifts off into a clear blue Florida sky in September 2006

After several weather delays, Atlantis lifts off into a clear blue Florida sky in September 2006. NASA wrote, “Neither lightening bolts, nor a tropical storm, nor tricky technical challenges could ultimately keep Space Shuttle Atlantis and the STS-115 astronauts from their appointed mission: resuming construction of the International Space Station.” Did you know when Atlantis had her first flight? The shuttle first lifted off on October 3, 1985. At liftoff, the weight of Atlantis “(with three shuttle main engines) was 176,413 pounds (80 t).” Photo #13 by NASA

Liftoff of Space Shuttle Atlantis

An exhaust cloud begins to form around space shuttle Atlantis as it springs into action from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff on its STS-129 mission came at 2:28 p.m. EST Nov. 16, 2009. NASA said that “construction of the orbiter Atlantis began on March 3, 1980. Thanks to lessons learned in the construction and testing of orbiters Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger, Atlantis was completed in about half the time in man-hours spent on Columbia.” Photo #14 by NASA / Jim Grossmann

STS-27, Orbiter Atlantis, Liftoff

STS-27, Orbiter Atlantis, utilizing 375,000 pounds thrust produced by its three main engines, lifts off on December 2, 1988. The STS-27 was the third classified mission dedicated to the Department of Defense (DoD). NASA wrote, “NASA’s fourth space-rated space shuttle, OV-104 ‘Atlantis,’ was named after the two-masted boat that served as the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966. The boat had a 17-member crew and accommodated up to five scientists who worked in two onboard laboratories, examining water samples and marine life. The crew also used the first electronic sounding devices to map the ocean floor.” Photo #15 by NASA

Space shuttle Atlantis is seen over the Bahamas prior to a perfect docking with the ISS on July 2011

Atlantis over the Bahamas prior to a perfect docking with the International Space Station on July 2011. Photo #16 by NASA

Atlantis, payload bay doors open, NASA emblem on her wing with aurora seen from space via ISS on July 26, 2011

Atlantis, payload bay doors open, NASA emblem on her wing showing, with aurora seen from space via ISS on July 26, 2011. While in orbit, the space shuttle traveled around Earth at a speed of approximately 17,500 miles (28,000 kilometers) per hour, giving the crew a view of a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes. Photo #17 by NASA

NASA jet and Atlantis space shuttle stack at Kennedy Space Center

NASA jet and Atlantis space shuttle stack at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. In 1989, Atlantis deployed the Magellan probe bound for Venus as well as deploying the Galileo probe bound for Jupiter. In 1991, Atlantis deployed the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. A United States president was never on hand to personally witness Atlantis launch. Photo #18 by Love These Pics

A look inside the new glass cockpit of the orbiter Atlantis as of April 1999

A look inside the “new” glass cockpit of the orbiter Atlantis as of April 1999. Starting with STS-71, June 1995, “Atlantis pioneered the Shuttle-Mir missions, flying the first seven missions to dock with the Russian space station. When linked, Atlantis and Mir together formed the largest spacecraft in orbit at the time. The missions to Mir included the first on-orbit U.S. crew exchanges, now a common occurrence on the International Space Station. On STS-79, the fourth docking mission, Atlantis ferried astronaut Shannon Lucid back to Earth after her record-setting 188 days in orbit aboard Mir.” Photo #19 by NASA Kennedy Space Center

Solar panels on the Hubble Space Telescope make for some unique window shades in this scene photographed from the flight deck of the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis, 2009

10 years later, S125 (15 May 2009): NASA wrote, “Solar panels on the Hubble Space Telescope make for some unique window shades in this scene photographed from the flight deck of the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis. Just below the “shaded” pair of windows are panels of displays and controls very instrumental in the success of the work being done on the giant observatory.” Photo #20 by NASA

ISS with  Atlantis docked at right and a Russian Soyuz docked to Pirs

NASA wrote, “This picture, photographed by NASA astronaut Ron Garan during the spacewalk conducted on July 12, 2011, shows the International Space Station with space shuttle Atlantis docked at right and a Russian Soyuz docked to Pirs, below the sun at far left. In the center foreground is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) experiment installed during the STS-134 mission. AMS is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector designed to use the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe’s origin by searching for antimatter and dark matter, and measuring cosmic ray.” Photo #21 by NASA / Astronaut Ron Garan

Intersecting the thin line of Earth's atmosphere, Space Shuttle Atlantis with payload bay doors open

NASA wrote, ISS023 (16 May 2010) “Intersecting the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere, the aft section of space shuttle Atlantis is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 23 crew member shortly after Atlantis docked with the International Space Station. The Russian-built Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1), named Rassvet, is visible in the cargo bay.” Photo #22 by NASA

Atlantis space shuttle payload doors open with astronaut behind her

Atlantis space shuttle payload doors open with astronaut behind her. When Atlantis rolled out of the assembly plant in Palmdale, California, it weighed 151,315 pounds. Wikipedia states, “The last mission of Atlantis was STS-135, the last flight of the Shuttle program. Atlantis launched successfully for the final time on 8 July 2011, landing at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on 21 July 2011. By the end of its final mission, Atlantis had orbited the Earth 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 mi (203,000,000 km) in space or more than 525 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.” Photo #23 by Love These Pics

Looking up at an astronaut overhead at Kennedy Space Center Atlantis exhibition

Looking up at an astronaut overhead at Kennedy Space Center Atlantis exhibition….cause nothing beats an astronaut. Photo #24 by Love These Pics

The Hubble Space Telescope stands tall in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis following its capture and lock-down in Earth orbit

“13 May 2009: The Hubble Space Telescope stands tall in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis following its capture and lock-down in Earth orbit.” Photo #25 by NASA

Riding Atlantis' remote manipulator system arm to the exact position to work on the Hubble Space Telescope

“With a mostly dark home planet behind him, astronaut Michael Good, STS-125 mission specialist, rides Atlantis’ remote manipulator system arm to the exact position he needs to be to continue work on the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronaut Mike Massimino, who shared two spacewalks with Good during the last week, is out of frame.” Photo #26 by NASA

STS-125 EVA4 Working inside Hubble

“18 May 2009: Atlantis astronauts Michael Good (left) and Mike Massimino, both STS-125 mission specialists, participate in the mission’s fourth session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as work continues to refurbish and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. During the eight-hour, two-minute spacewalk, Massimino and Good continued repairs and improvements to the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) that will extend the Hubble’s life into the next decade.” Photo #27 by NASA

Atlantis Transiting the Sun

“In this tightly cropped image, the NASA space shuttle Atlantis is seen in silhouette during solar transit, Tuesday, May 12, 2009, from Florida. This image was made before Atlantis and the crew of STS-125 had grappled the Hubble Space Telescope.” Photo #28 by NASA

Atlantis flies over white clouds and blue ocean waters of the Atlantic as Astronaut Jerry Ross, anchored to the foot restraint, works on structures in space

12/01/1985: “Atlantis flies over white clouds and blue ocean waters of the Atlantic as Astronaut Jerry Ross, anchored to the foot restraint, works on structures in space.” Photo #29 by NASA

Backdropped by a blue and white Earth, Space Shuttle Atlantis' payload bay, vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods

(19 May 2009) — “Backdropped by a blue and white Earth, Space Shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay, vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods are featured in this image photographed by an Atlantis STS-125 crewmember on flight day nine.” Photo #30 by NASA

STS-125 Atlantis crew working on the Hubble

(16 May 2009) — “Astronauts Andrew Feustel (partially obscured at top) and John Grunsfeld, both STS-125 mission specialists, participate in the mission’s third session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as work continues to refurbish and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. During the six-hour, 36-minute spacewalk, Grunsfeld and Feustel removed the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement and installed in its place the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. They also completed the Advanced Camera for Surveys electronic card replacement work, and completed part 2 of the ACS repair, installing a new electronics box and cable.” Photo #31 by NASA

STS-135 Atlantis and Southern Lights

“14 July 2011 — This panoramic view, photographed from the International Space Station, looking past the docked space shuttle Atlantis’ cargo bay and part of the station including a solar array panel toward Earth, was taken on July 14 as the joint complex passed over the southern hemisphere. Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights can be seen on Earth’s horizon and a number of stars are visible also.” Photo #32 by NASA

Riding Atlantis' remote manipulator system arm to the exact position to work on the Hubble Space Telescope

“Riding Atlantis’ remote manipulator system arm to the exact position to work on the Hubble Space Telescope.” Photo #33 by NASA

Space Shuttle Atlantis connected to Russia's Mir Space Station

NASA wrote, “This view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis still connected to Russia’s Mir Space Station was photographed by the Mir-19 crew on July 4, 1995. Cosmonauts Anatoliy Y. Solovyev and Nikolai M. Budarin, Mir-19 Commander and Flight Engineer, respectively, temporarily undocked the Soyuz spacecraft from the cluster of Mir elements to perform a brief fly-around. They took pictures while the STS-71 crew, with Mir-18′s three crew members aboard, undocked Atlantis for the completion of this leg of the joint activities. Solovyev and Budarin had been taxied to the Mir Space Station by the STS-71 ascent trip of Atlantis.” Photo #34 by NASA

Backdropped by a blue and white part of Earth, a partial view of Space Shuttle Atlantis' payload bay

On 17 Nov. 2009 — “Backdropped by a blue and white part of Earth, a partial view of Space Shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay, vertical stabilizer, orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods and docking mechanism are featured in this image photographed by an STS-129 crew member from an aft flight deck window.” Photo #35 by NASA

Atlantis Performs a Back Flip

“Atlantis Performs a Back Flip: The Expedition 23 crew snapped this image of the underside of Atlantis’ crew cabin, during a survey of the approaching space shuttle prior to docking with the International Space Station.” Photo #36 by NASA

Backdropped over parts of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, space shuttle Atlantis' vertical stabilizer, orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods and aft payload bay

(25 May 2010) — “Backdropped over parts of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, space shuttle Atlantis’ vertical stabilizer, orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods and aft payload bay are featured in this image photographed by an STS-132 on the shuttle during flight day 12 activities. Recognizable features in the photo include Lake St. Clair and parts of Lake Huron and Lake Erie.” Photo #37 by NASA

The planet Venus, the moon and the aft section of space shuttle Atlantis

(16 May 2010) — “The aft section of space shuttle Atlantis is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 23 crew member shortly after Atlantis docked with the International Space Station. The Russian-built Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1), named Rassvet, is visible in the cargo bay. The planet Venus and the moon are visible at top center.” Photo #38 by NASA

Fireworks over Atlantis, 2012

Fireworks over Atlantis during her arrival at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, November 2012. Photo #39 by NASA / Jim Grossmann

Space Shuttles

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Space Shuttles. Photo #40 by NASA/Jim Grossmann

Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy

It’s hard to judge just how immense those shuttle stacks are, so here’s another angle. KSC wrote about the building for the Space Shuttle Atlantis: “The stylized shape of the new home for Atlantis features two sweeping architectural elements or “wings” in hues of orange and gold to represent both the heat and the bright colors of re-entry. Special gray colors tiling has been incorporated into the building’s design to represent the space shuttle tiles that protected the orbiter from the heat of re-entry. Space Shuttle Atlantis.” Photo #41 by Love These Pics

Front of Atlantis Space Shuttle

Front of Atlantis Space Shuttle. Photo #42 by Love These Pics

Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida

Underside of Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Photo #43 by NASA / Jim Grossmann

Atlantis, flag, astronaut on screen at Kennedy Space Center, Atlantis Space Shuttle exhibit

Atlantis, flag, astronaut on screen at KSC exhibit. Photo #44 by Love These Pics

Atlantis Space Shuttle on display at KSC

We think Atlantis is a national treasure . . . and the opportunity to be this close to see it was an experience we will never forget. Photo #46 by NASA / Jim Grossmann & #47 by NASA / Jim Grossmann

Under Atlantis Space Shuttle

ISS replica on the right and 1st floor; NASA and United States on Atlantis. Photo #48 by Love These Pics

The size and example of where astronauts sleep aboard the ISS

The size and example of where astronauts sleep aboard the ISS. Photo #49 by Love These Pics

How do astronauts go to the restroom

The ISS section shows what a bed is like, living quarters, exercise and even that burning question all people (?) have wondered about . . . How do astronauts go to the restroom in space? Photo #50 by Love These Pics

Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center, storm brewing in background

Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center, storm brewing in background. We highly recommend that you visit Kennedy Space Center and experience the Atlantis exhibit yourself if at all possible. As KSC said, “The immersive experience also shines a spotlight on the astounding achievements made over the course of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program, most notably, the building of the International Space Station and the launch and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope.” Photo #51 by Love These Pics

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