Updated 11 months ago
NASA’s space shuttle program has ended, but Brevard County’s economy is getting a boost from the retired shuttle Atlantis, which has begun a new career as the centerpiece of a $100-million attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, operator of the visitor complex since 1995, has filled the 90,000-sq.-ft. attraction with more than 60 interactive exhibits and simulators combining elements of modern theme park technology with historic NASA photos, artifacts and film footage. The attraction is included in the price of general admission for the KSC Visitors Center, $50 plus tax for adults, $40 plus tax for ages 3-11.
Brevard officials are excited about the anticipated tourism boost to the county, where all 135 space shuttle missions began. The star of the new attraction is Atlantis, seeming to float in space almost within arm’s reach of visitors, with its payload-bay doors open and robotic arm extended. The last shuttle to fly, Atlantis displays all of the dings and scars of 33 successful missions and nearly 126 million miles of space flight.
Visitors first see a 184-foot-tall replica of the shuttle’s external tank and solid rocket boosters in front of the building. Inside, a multimedia preshow area documents the 30-year history of the program and its five shuttles, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavor and Atlantis. The exhibit also includes:
A 43-foot-long replica of the Hubble space telescope, cinematic highlights of the program and images of deep space on display inside a 40-seat theater.
The International Space Station Gallery allows visitors to explore a replica of modules and learn about living and working in zero gravity.
A Shuttle Launch Experience simulator gives visitors a chance to “go vertical” and “see, feel and hear” what shuttle astronauts experience at liftoff. Other simulators allow visitors to “practice” shuttle landings, dock to the space station and manipulate the robotic arm.