Shuttle Atlantis to 'fly' again at new Kennedy Space Center home

Workers prep shuttle for public display

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Kennedy Space Center workers hoisted the Space Shuttle Atlantis into the air as they prepare to put the orbiter on display on Thursday.

The 154,000-pound orbiter has been shrink-wrapped in plastic for protection, lifted off the ground at 30 feet and tilted at a 43-degree angle.

"It's a really good feeling to know it's where it's supposed to be and in it's place, and we can take a little bit of a deep breath," said project director Tim Macy.

Atlantis was lifted using powerful jacks and before it was even lifted, engineers practiced the maneuver using a mock-up.

Visitors will enter the building on the second floor and see Atlantis, looking as if it were flying through space.

"We're the last people to work on this.  It's been 30 years with thousands and thousands of people who worked on it and have a lot of pride in the shuttle," Macy said. "And we feel proud we get the chance to take care of it and be the custodian of it for 150 years or however long it's here."

Workers must seal the back wall where Atlantis was driven in and by March 2013, it will be safe enough in there to tear off the plastic shrink wrap. Atlantis will open to the to the public in July 2013.

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