Kennedy Space Center, FL - November 2012 / Hospitality 1ST / Space Shuttle Atlantis arrived Friday (November 2) at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to begin its new mission as the dramatically displayed centerpiece of a $100 million exhibit scheduled to open in July 2013.
Atlantis completed its historic final journey - the last of any of NASA's space shuttles - with NASA officials and thousands of visitor complex guests looking on. A parade of more than 30 former astronauts joined the orbiter for the final leg of the trip from Kennedy Space Center before it parked in front of the remaining open wall of the 90,000-square-foot exhibit building that has been under construction since January.
Atlantis will be moved into the building and raised 36 feet off the ground over the next month. The complex operation will include rotating the shuttle about 43 degrees so that it will be showcased on an angle as if it were in space - only as the astronauts from its 33 missions have had a chance to see it. When it is displayed, its payload bay doors will be open and the Canadarm (robotic arm) extended.
"We think visitors to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be awed and inspired by how they will see and experience Atlantis," said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
"Complementing Atlantis will be more than 60 interactive, immersive exhibits about the entire shuttle program - including its key role with the International Space Station and the Hubble Telescope, and how it paved the way for today's new space programs. Along with our authentic 363-foot-long Apollo/Saturn V rocket, countless other unique space artifacts, the Shuttle Launch Experience and everything to see at a working space port, Atlantis makes the visitor complex the best place to experience, learn about and be inspired by mankind's greatest adventure," Moore said.
Work will begin to enclose Atlantis in the exhibit building by completing construction of the final wall, which is expected by mid-December. Atlantis will be encapsulated in a protective wrap before that work begins.
Atlantis's daylong, 10-mile trip from Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building aboard NASA's 76-wheel Orbiter Transportation System featured stops for a signing ceremony at NASA's Kennedy Space Center headquarters and guest viewing opportunities at Space Florida's Exploration Park and later as it entered the visitor complex.
During the Atlantis ceremony, Moored thanked NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana and pledged that the visitor complex would be a great steward of NASA's orbiter in displaying it for the public for generations.
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts has operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA since 1995. The exhibit building is being designed by PGAV Destinations, architects headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., and being constructed by Whiting-Turner Contracting Company in Orlando. The six-story exhibit is being built adjacent to the existing Shuttle Launch Experience.
A work of art in itself, the exterior of the Atlantis exhibit features two sweeping architectural elements, or "wings" representing the space shuttle's launch and return. The outer layer of the building, which is being cloaked in iridescent hues of orange and gold, represents the fiery-glow of re-entry. The taller, internal wing of the building is being covered in a shimmering tile pattern in varying tones of gray designed to represent the tiled underside of the orbiter.
At the entrance to the Atlantis exhibit, guests will be greeted by a full-size, upright, replica external tank and two solid rocket boosters, expected to be installed in the coming months. On the opposite side of the tank and booster assembly, a silhouette of the orbiter is attached to show guests its exact size and placement. The 184-foot-tall space shuttle stack will give visitors a true sense of the massive size and awesome power used to thrust the shuttle into low-earth orbit, however, they will have to travel a little further and wait a few more moments to get up close to the real thing - the actual orbiter, Atlantis.
About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. Closing times vary by season. Admission includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX(R) space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and all exhibits. Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame(R), featuring historic spacecraft and the world's largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia, open from noon until 6:00 p.m. daily. Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander's Club Annual Pass is $63 + tax for adults and $53 + tax for children ages 3-11. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.
About Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts is an industry leader providing Stewardship and Hospitality in Special Places (SM), with hotel, retail, food service, recreation and transportation operations at historic and scenic properties in North America and Australia. The company operates Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Sequoia and Yosemite national parks, including The Ahwahnee and other Yosemite lodges; Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite & the Cottages at Tenaya Lodge; Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa in British Columbia; Niagara Falls State Park; The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ohio; Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga; Holiday Inn West Yellowstone, Gray Wolf Inn & Suites and Yellowstone Park Hotel. The company also owns and operates five luxury resorts in Australia: Lizard Island Resort, Heron Island Resort, Wilson Island Resort, Kings Canyon Resort and El Questro Homestead and Wilderness Park. To learn more about Delaware North Companies' hospitality management expertise, visit www.ExperienceDNC.com. To learn more about Delaware North Parks & Resorts, visit www.DelawareNorth.com/Parks-and-Resorts.aspx.
About Delaware North Companies
Delaware North Companies is one of the largest and most admired privately held hospitality companies in the world. Founded and owned by the Jacobs family for nearly 100 years, it is a global leader in hospitality and food service. Its family of companies includes Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment, Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, Delaware North Companies International and Delaware North Companies Boston, owner of TD Garden. Delaware North Companies has revenue exceeding $2.6 billion annually and 55,000 associates serving half a billion customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. For more information, visit www.DelawareNorth.com.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Andrea Farmer, 321-449-4318
Catherine Segar, 321-449-4273