Kennedy Space Center unveils shuttle Atlantis exhibit

Grand opening set for June 29

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The Kennedy Space Center on Friday unveiled the space shuttle Atlantis -- hanging 30 feet off the ground -- at a new exhibit at its new home in Cape Canaveral.

[PHOTOS:  Space center unveils new Atlantis exhibit]

The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit features the actual shuttle suspended inside an air-conditioned, hangar-like room, tilted at a 42.21-degree angle, the exact angle at which the shuttle orbits Earth.

The media preview allowed reporters and photographers to get a close look at Atlantis before the exhibit opens to the public on June 29.

"It's hard for us now to come into the building," said Bill Moore, chief operating officer for Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center. "You see what's coming to an end."

But Moore wants the end to be a new beginning for the shuttle Atlantis.

He and his team think that with its payload bay doors wide open and its robotic arm extended, Atlantis is different from its sister ships.

"We've all seen Discovery and Endeavor [exhibits], and they've done great jobs. But for this one to be the last one that ever flew, and to be such a comprehensive exhibit, we really find that amazing," he said.

Workers are feverishly trying to complete the 90,000-square-foot experience, which includes a life-size Hubble telescope replica.  Atlantis astronauts helped construct the telescope during 33 missions.

"The people who worked on the shuttles said each one had a different personality," said Tim Macy, project director for the shuttle exhibit. "I've adopted one for [Atlantis] as the work horse. She's a hard working gal."

When it opens, the $100 million exhibit will allow visitors to experience launch-like conditions in simulators, mission control and a theater showcasing its missions.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.