Shuttle Atlantis Soars In New Exhibit, Two Years After Last Space Launch

by Elizabeth Howell on July 8, 2013

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The belly of space shuttle Atlantis in the new exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Steven Coates

The belly of space shuttle Atlantis in the new exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Steven Coates


Two years after space shuttle Atlantis launched into space, it’s still looking like it returned from a long journey. It “bears the scars, scorch marks and space dust of its last mission,” writes the Kennedy Space Center Visitors’ Center.

That’s deliberate, though. In late June, visitors to the Orlando-area attraction got the chance to get nose-to-nose with this orbiter in a new exhibit. Atlantis, unlike similar exhibits of other shuttles so far, is perched on a precise 43.21-degree angle to give a view previously afforded only to astronauts.

The $100 million, 90,000-square-foot exhibit also has an International Space Station gallery, a simulated shuttle launch ride, and training simulators for landing, space station docking and moving the robotic Canadarm.

Today (July 8) marked the two-year launch anniversary of STS-135, the last journey of both Atlantis and the shuttle program. Its main goal was to haul a huge load of supplies and spare parts to the space station. The event also generated a NASA Social, which many of the participants (including Universe Today‘s Jason Major) recalled today:

bittersweet_sts135

For those of us who couldn’t make the launch in person, luckily there’s plenty of multimedia material out there to experience it virtually. Universe Today‘s Ken Kremer was also at the final launch, and posted some photos on our website . NASA has a hub commemorating the last shuttle launch. NASA Kennedy published a mission tribute video, including some rarer footage.

And of course, you can watch the launch itself in many videos, including this official one from NASA below.

What are your favorite memories of Atlantis activities, either from attending launches or doing other things? Feel free to share in the comments.

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

zkank July 8, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Melancholy, this!
Forty-one years after the last Apollo mission where men walked on the moon, museum status for the Shuttles, and US astronauts now have to hitchhike to get in orbit…

On the bright side, the private sector is bravely progressing in the challenge!

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