The company that runs the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will break ground next week for what will be the first shuttle orbiter exhibit nationwide, and a galaxy of stars will be in attendance.
Former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, who commanded the nation's 135th and final shuttle mission last July, will be on hand Wednesday for the ceremonial start of construction of a 65,000-square-foot building that will house Orbiter Vehicle 104, OV-104, more commonly known as Atlantis. Ferguson landed Atlantis July 21 at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility, capping 30 years of shuttle triumphs and tragedies. He retired from NASA in December and now works for The Boeing Co. in the company's space exploration division.
The $100 million Atlantis exhibit will give the general public an unprecedented up-close look at one of the nation's priceless shuttle orbiters. Atlantis will move from its processing hangar to the exhibit grounds this fall; the exhibit is scheduled to open in the summer of 2013.
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carrol will speak at the 11 a.m. event, and so will KSC Deputy Director Janet Petro. Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of CEO of Delaware North Companies, also will take the podium along with Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the Delaware North division that runs the visitor complex.