PHOTO TOUR: A Last Look at Space Shuttle Atlantis Before it Becomes a Museum Piece
Friday, October 05, 2012 - 09:08 AM
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.
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."
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.
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.