Atlantis leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center (photo by Matthew Peddie)
(Orlando, Fla. -- WMFE) NASA has officially signed the last remaining space shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center into retirement.
Riding on a flat bed transporter, Atlantis rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at dawn Friday, bound for its new home at a purpose-built display hall nearly 10 miles away at the privately operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
A few hours later a crowd of shuttle workers and their families gathered for a retirement ceremony. NASA administrator Charles Bolden, who flew on Atlantis in 1992, said while the shuttle program has ended, its spirit lives on.
“It’s now NASA’s honor to permanently house this magnificent spacecraft right here, where she rose to the skies 33 times carrying 156 men and women," said Bolden.
"She’s truly a testament to American ingenuity.”
The commanders of both Atlantis’ first mission and the last ever shuttle flight last year also talked about the significance of the program.
Contractors watch as Atlantis moves away from the VAB (photo by Matthew Peddie)
The shuttle travels on a diesel powered 76 wheel transporter (photo by Matthew Peddie)
The cab of the orbiter transporter (photo by Matthew Peddie)
Photographers watch as Atlantis rolls out (photo by Matthew Peddie)
Shuttle Atlantis traveled nearly 10 miles by road to its new home, mostly on NASA property. Engineers removed some traffic lights and street signs to allow the shuttle through (Photo by Matthew Peddie)
Atlantis paused at an intersection as a NASA helicopter circles overhead (photo by Matthew Peddie)
A marching band leads Atlantis into its retirement ceremony (photo by Matthew Peddie)
Shuttle program employees and their families watched the final rollout of Atlantis (photo by Matthew Peddie)
“Atlantis’s final mission may have closed out the space shuttle program, but the spirit that created that program and built her is very much alive as we develop the technologies and systems not only for private companies to serve our needs in low earth orbit, but to keep us on the road to an asteroid, to mars and places beyond." NASA administrator Charles Bolden (photo by Matthew Peddie)