Friday, December 09, 2011

Orbiter mockup to depart KSC Visitor Complex

A full-scale shuttle orbiter mockup is in the final days of its 18-year perch at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Crews plan to move the high-fidelity model called "Explorer" early Sunday to clear room for a $100 million exhibit building that will house NASA's retired orbiter Atlantis, whose 33 missions included the 135th and last by a shuttle in July.

The roughly 150,000-pound Explorer, a Visitor Complex installatoin since 1993, will be trucked about four miles to the Launch Complex 39 turn basin at Kennedy Space Center.

Within a few months the model will be barged to Texas for display at Space Center Houston, Johnson Space Center's visitor center.

Kennedy's visitor center, operated by Delaware North Cos. Parks and Resorts, plans to break ground next month on the 65,000 square foot facility for Atlantis in what is now called Shuttle Plaza, next to the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction.

The center last week moved the two solid rocket boosters and an external tank that were displayed in the plaza for more than a decade to a temporary storage site at KSC. NASA hasn't announced a final destination for them.

Atlantis is expected to roll from a KSC hangar into its partially completed display space late next year. The exhibit's opening is targeted for July 2013.

IMAGE: Cranes on Nov. 30 removed a full-size, 149-foot-long, space shuttle solid rocket booster, or SRB, replica from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as the space-themed attraction makes way for a new exhibit featuring space shuttle Atlantis, which is currently undergoing preparations to go on public display. Credit: NASA/Jim Grossman.

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