PHOTO TOUR: A Last Look at Space Shuttle Atlantis Before it Becomes a Museum Piece

The space shuttle Atlantis inside the Orbiter Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Shuttle technicians at the Kennedy Space Center are finishing their work to prepare the last of NASA's retired orbiters for display.

Atlantis flew the last shuttle mission in July 2011, and it's due to roll out to the visitor complex on November 2nd.

"This is been my life," says David Bakehorn. "It's not the ending of a program, it's not the laying off of a workforce, it's the breakup of a big family. These people you see around here have worked together for 25 to 30 years." (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Inside the Orbiter Processing Facility Hi-Bay 2 at the space center, workers are making sure the shuttle is free of toxic fuel residue and other hazardous parts.  The main engines have been removed and will be used for future space programs

Many of the staff still at the shuttle processing facility have spent decades working on the orbiters.

Lead shuttle systems technician specialist David Bakehorn says after 27 years working on the shuttles, he’s sad to see it go.

“But it’s really nice that it’s staying at home," he says.

"We were worried we weren’t going to get a real live orbiter here in Florida, (because) there’s only so many to go around, and I’m glad to be a part of it."

The replica shuttle  (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Shuttle Discovery was flown to the National Air and Space Museum near Washington DC in April, and last month Endeavour piggybacked on the 747 transporter to California. Enterprise, which never flew in orbit, is now in New York, and a replica shuttle which had been on display at Kennedy for 18 years was sent by barge to Houston.

Next week the landing gear will be retracted and the shuttle will be put on a special transporter (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Atlantis only has to go 9 miles. Next week is landing gear will be retracted, and in mid-October it will be put on a special transporter and rolled over to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

On November 2nd, Atlantis will be moved by road to the Visitor Center, where a new building's been constructed to house the shuttle.

Sightseers won't actually be able to go inside the shuttle, though, so this is the last chance to walk inside the cabin and the living quarters before it becomes a museum piece.

Inside the somewhat cramped crew quarters (photo by Matthew Peddie)


Nose of the shuttle (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Orbiter Quality Assurance Inspector Rob Lewis checks out some of the autographs in the "white room" (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Atlantis flight deck (photo by Matthew Peddie)

The doorway into the crew module (photo by Matthew Peddie)

The actual shuttle engines have been removed. They'll be reused by NASA in its next space program (photo by Matthew Peddie)