Last Space Shuttle Launch … Now What’s Next?

Filed under: Kennedy Space Center |

Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch at 11.26am this morning and as I write, there’s a 70% chance the launch will be scrubbed through poor weather conditions. The next launch opportunity will be at 11.02am on Saturday 9th July and assuming Atlantis does make its rendezvous with the International Space Station, delivers it’s cargo and then returns to earth on or around 2oth July,  what’s next?

The good news is that Atlantis will be staying right here in Florida at a new shuttle exhibit at Kennedy Space Center. KSC visitor complex is building a new $100 million, 65,000 square foot exhibit to recreate a virtual space experience to house the shuttle.

The center will break ground on the attraction in early 2012 and is expected to generate over 300 jobs and bring $38 million in economic impact from the construction. Once it is operational, the exhibit will then create 106 permanent jobs and generate millions of dollars in economic impact.

Bill Moore, Chief Operating Officer, said : “This new exhibit will help the visitor complex experience jump to a whole new level, as it will be the largest single exhibit we have here.”

It’s all good news for the Space Coast as it now gets to keep the 27 year old Atlantis orbiter. Atlantis has more than 30 space missions and over 115 million miles traveled during it’s lifespan and it’s sure to be a big attraction for many years to visitors to the area as well as being an educational tool for the generations of the future.

Assuming everything goes to plan the new exhibit will show Atlantis in a mock working environment with its payload doors open, its mechanical arm extended and an astronaut appearing to be in orbit. The new attraction will educate guests on the history of the shuttle and its missions, as well as showcase integral parts of the vehicle.

“NASA is also planning on putting out actual spare parts and astronaut crew kits for bid, and we want to take a lot of those real-life components and use them in the same building the orbiter is going in” said Moore.

The new exhibit may also include mock displays of the International Space Station, structural pieces of a shuttle orbiter and mock up cockpits where guests can enter to actually get a feel for what it would feel like to command the space shuttle. “This will connect guests with the whole orbiter story from launch to being in space” Moore added.

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Here’s some video about the future plans:

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