Shuttle Atlantis gets unwrapped inside new KSC exhibit

By Greg Pallone, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013, 3:28 PM EDT

Crews in Brevard County have begun to remove the protective shrink wrap from space shuttle Atlantis that's been covering the orbiter since it arrived at its new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in November.

KSC officials began peeling off the 16,000 square feet of wrapping at 11 a.m. Thursday. Crews said they will finish unwrapping the shuttle Friday.

The wrap that's been covering the more than 150,000-pound shuttle was designed to keep it from harm during the $100 million construction of the new exhibit, to be called simply "Space Shuttle Atlantis."

The exhibit is set to open June 29, giving visitors an up-close, 360-degree, multi-level view of the space shuttle, which has been suspended 30 feet off the floor at a 43-degree angle, as if orbiting the Earth.

KSC officials said they expect more than 1 million people each year to visit the exhibit.

Space shuttle Atlantis flew on its final mission in July 2011, landing for the final time on July 21 at the KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility. It is the last remaining shuttle in Florida, where it now has a permanent home.

The rest of the retired orbiters traveled to new homes at museums around the country last year:

  • Discovery: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, near Washington
  • Endeavour: California Science Center, Los Angeles
  • Enterprise (prototype): Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York
  • Explorer (full-scale replica): Johnson Space Center, Houston