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Space Shuttle Atlantis to be Exhibited this Summer

Feb 24, 2013 01:04 PM EST
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Space shuttle Atlantis will be put on public display this summer, officials at the Kennedy Space Center have announced.

The center's visitor complex in Florida is preparing to exhibit the retired space shuttle Atlantis at their $100 million, 90,000-square-foot facility. The building will be opened to the public June 29.

"Although the multimillion-dollar interactive exhibit encompasses much, much more than the display of Atlantis, there is no denying she is truly the star of the show," Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the visitor complex, told Space.com.

Atlantis is one of the three NASA space shuttles that retired in 2011; the other two are Discovery and Endeavour space shuttles. Atlantis was the last space shuttle to fly into space. 

Atlantis began its first voyage Oct. 3, 1985 on mission 51-J, the second dedicated Department of Defense flight. In its 25 years of service, the space shuttle has carried out 33 flying missions, including secret missions for the U.S. military, taking astronauts to and from the international space station, launching the Galileo interplanetary probe to Jupiter, and maintaining the Hubble telescope. It's last space mission, STS-135, ended July 21, 2011 when the space shuttle rolled to a stop at its home port - Kennedy Space Center, according to NASA.

Discovery space shuttle, which completed its final flight in March, 2011 was the first shuttle to be moved to its permanent home - Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington - in April 2012. Endeavour was piggybacked atop a NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to fly to its Los Angeles home last September.

This summer, Atlantis will make a 10-mile trek from the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where it will be put on permanent display.

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