Last-Ever Move Of A NASA Orbiter Scheduled For Friday
Fans of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program will have their last opportunity to see an orbiter on the move when Atlantis makes its historic final journey on Nov. 2 at Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis will travel the nearly 10 miles from Kennedy Space Center to its new home at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The move will begin at 0700 EDT when Atlantis leaves Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at about 2 miles per hour on the 106-foot-long Orbiter Transporter System. The orbiter will make its way to Kennedy Space Center headquarters where at about 0945 thousands of current NASA employees and former shuttle workers are scheduled to attend a private event that will include a ceremony to mark the transfer of Atlantis to the visitor complex.
Atlantis will then head to Space Florida’s Exploration Park, a 65-acre area that will provide a festival setting for a half-day event where guests can see the shuttle up close and “in the round.” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana and the space shuttle astronauts from STS-135, the final shuttle and Atlantis mission, are also expected to attend.
“The final trip of Atlantis will be the very last time anyone is going to see a space shuttle in motion or out in the open, making it a truly unique and momentous viewing opportunity,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, which operates the visitor complex for NASA. “Atlantis is a spacecraft that has flown 33 missions into space, logging more than 125 million miles, and it was the last orbiter in space and the last to touch down at Kennedy Space Center. Seeing the orbiter up close will be an emotional experience,” he said.
Atlantis will then leave Exploration Park and complete the final leg of its journey, traveling in front of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex along State Road 405/NASA Parkway before entering its new home, a $100 million interactive exhibit complex currently under construction and set to open in July 2013.
After the approximate 1800 EDT arrival, a 10-minute fireworks show will illuminate the skies of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, providing the grand finale to an extraordinary day.
NASA and Delaware North have spent the past year and a half planning the challenging logistics of Atlantis’s 10-mile trek with a team of workers set to remove and replace 120 light poles, 23 traffic signals, 56 traffic signs and one high-voltage power line to make way for the orbiter.
(Images provided by NASA)