NASA begins work on display for space shuttle

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s retired space shuttle Atlantis is a step closer to completing its final journey.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex broke ground Wednesday for Atlantis’ permanent home, a $100 million exhibit due to open in summer 2013. Schoolchildren waved red, white and blue Atlantis flags — 33 flags representing each of Atlantis’ space missions — as state and local dignitaries joined former shuttle staff at the construction site.

The astronaut who commanded Atlantis’ final spaceflight, Christopher Ferguson, told the more than 100 guests that Atlantis will serve as “a reminder of the limitless potential” of Americans and also inspire children, some of whom will become future space travelers.

Ferguson, who now works for Boeing on new space vehicles, made note of the effort to preserve the past while working toward the future: “I’d like you all to stay tuned as we turn to the next chapter of the journey that will never end.”

Boeing was a prime contractor for the space shuttle program.

Shuttle Discovery will actually be the first to ship out to museums. In April, it will head to the National Air and Space Museum’s display hangar outside Washington. Shuttle Endeavour will travel to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in the second half of the year.

NASA’s 30-year shuttle program ended last July with the voyage of Atlantis. Since then, workers have been getting them ready for display by draining hazardous fuel, disconnecting or removing some systems and replacing the main engines with replicas.

Delaware North Parks &Resorts, which runs the Kennedy visitor complex for NASA, used an industrial-size digger to unveil a huge picture of the planned exhibit hall. The six-story structure will feature two curved “wings” in orange and gold colors, representing the intense heat of re-entry.

Atlantis will be displayed as if flying in orbit, with the cargo bay doors open and the robot arm extended.

Seattle exhibit

The Museum of Flight in Seattle will house a full-size space shuttle trainer in its new Space Gallery. The space shuttle trainer is the only one of its kind in the world and is the simulator in which every shuttle astronaut trained for space flight. The Space Gallery is on the west side of East Marginal Way, near Boeing Field.

More in Local News

District takes steps to secure school campuses

Safety measures have been enhanced at Hawthorne and Silver Firs elementary schools in Everett.

Local police join thousands honoring slain Canadian officer

Abbotsford Const. John Davidson was killed Nov. 6 in a shootout with a suspected car thief.

Hard work is paying off for Mariner High senior

Mey Ly has excelled in school since moving here from Cambodia; she also serves as an intrepreter.

1 arrested after SWAT team moves in on Marysville house

The incident was connected to an earlier robbery.

Darrington School Board race might come down to a coin flip

With a one-vote difference, a single ballot in Skagit County remains to be counted.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

No easy exit from Smokey Point shopping complex

There’s just no easy exit on this one. A reader called in… Continue reading

County Council upholds ban on safe heroin injection sites

At Monday’s public hearing, more than 15 people spoke in support of the ban. No one spoke against it.

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

Most Read