The Atlantis space shuttle exhibit is like a museum mixed with a theme park. I had the honor of being invited to the grand opening of this great exhibit. I will never forget the event. The work done by the passionate people at Kennedy Space Center visitor complex is quite amazing. My heart was captured by the level of interaction the patron has with the displays. Everywhere you turn there is another booth to play with. There were so many things to do that I didn’t even get to half of them and I was there all day. No chance to get bored!
It started in the morning with the entrance of over 35 Astronauts. There was representation from every mission of the Atlantis. The speeches lasted for about an hour and a half before the real opening stated. Instead of a ceremonial ribbon, the staff at the Atlantis exhibit chose to do a mock launch of the solid rocket boosters. Smoke poured out with sparks and the speakers roared. It is hard to explain in a short post like this. Therefore, I intend to do a much longer post when I have time to review all my footage and audio recordings.
After the “opening” droves of people funneled under the giant fuel tank attached to the solid rocket boosters that launched the space shuttle. You can actually touch them! As you walk up to the doors you will notice a Carl Sagan quote on the wall, “The sky calls to us.” It made me think of Carl Sagan and what he taught a lot of us. The future is out in space. It is our responsibility to create the means to get there. Walking in there is a long corridor full of quotes and images of the space shuttle. At the top of a long, winding ramp, there is a theater room with information about the space program. After about 8 minutes of video you walk into another room for another video. This room is heavy on the Atlantis launch videos.
Once the second video is over the Atlantis will be revealed through the screen. The curtain raises and everyone pauses for a split second before clapping ensues. What a sight. Words really can’t express it. You are less than 30 feet away from the front nose of the Atlantis shuttle. Walking through the opening you can come to within about three feet of different parts of the shuttle. indeed, at certain points you could actually touch the shuttle. The shuttle is displayed at an angle with bay doors wide open and the Canada arm attached. The first thing I noticed upon close look was the texture of the shuttle skin. It almost looks like Papier-mâché with black tiles attached.
After spending a good amount of time walking around – in a 360 degree view – Atlantis, I decided to check out the displays. The first display I check out was the life size model of the Hubble telescope. The Hubble competes for awesomeness with the shuttle in my mind. I can not begin to tell you how many other displays there are, but I heard a bus driver say there are over 60 displays in the exhibit. I would not doubt these numbers. There were so many of them I didn’t even have time to play with them all. Everything from simulated shuttle piloting to working with the tools on the space station.
There are touch screen displays that reminded me an awful lot of the windows table. Touch screens and high tech monitors are everywhere. There are mock up displays for the kids and adults alike. Some of the displays require you to take off your shoes – such as the ISS mock up. There is also a shuttle launch simulator designed with the help of real astronauts. The experience was very cool.
One thing I learned for certain is that I am going to be bringing my entire family back. Not only do I have mounds of information to go through to do the exhibit and visitor center justice, but I also have other exhibits and features to talk about. Those are for another post. I’m afraid my time at the Space Center has worn me out today. I must get some sleep.
Let me know what you think in the comments! Did you visit? Are you thinking of going?
Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to those comments.
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