Retirement of Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Center

The final home of the last Space Shuttle to fly in space

Moving Atlantis from the VAB to the Visitor's Center - Day 1

move route
From Florida Today.  This is the route of the Atlantis on the day of the transfer.
The start is at the VAB, and I would have the opportunity to view her along
the route with points marked in the colored circles.

Final touch of Space Shuttle Atlantis
My last picture next to Atlantis.  The final fully working Space Shuttle.  This was shot on
6/24/2011 just before the launch of STS-135.

atlantis in vab
Fast forward to January 2012: Atlantis' arrival into the VAB for her final refurbishment.
Note the missing Main Engines and OMS pods.  These would be replaced by replicas.

For the retirement ceremonies of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, we were invited to attend a public outreach event similar to what was set up for the Discovery retirement.  I arrived the day before and set up our display, and the next day, before going back to the Visitor's Center, decided to drive up to the VAB to see how much access I could get to see the Shuttle on her route.  I was able to get some up close pictures.

Atlantis leaving VAB
The morning of Nov 2 2012.  I was able to drive up to the point in the green circle of the route picture, and was able to catch Atlantis just turning onto Kennedy Parkway.

Once she departed the VAB area, I was able to drive along the back road to meet her at the traffic light in the red circle of the route map.

STS135 shirt
One of the Shuttle workers posing with his Atlantis shirt.  I have this same shirt design also, but forgot to wear it that day.  The shirt features STS-135, the final mission.

Atlantis toy
I found this little toy on the road on my way to work this morning.

Atlantis retirement panorama
First time experimenting with the panorama feature of my iPhone shows the scene
at the traffic light this day.  Scroll that way ->.

SSCO booth at Atlantis Visitor Center
SSCO booth at Atlantis Visitor Center
SSCO booth at Atlantis Visitor Center
After this, I hurried back to the Visitor's Center to staff our booth.
There were a lot of visitors coming to the center to participate in the
Shuttle retirement events.

Atlantis rolling over to VC
We worked our booth all day, and around 4:30 made our way to the NASA Parkway
by the blue circle in the route map.  Here we could see Atlantis' final roll and turn
into the Visitor's Center.  The yellow lanyard and badge identifies me as an event staffer.

reflection of shuttle
Two Shuttles in sight.

Alligator at Atlantis retirement
Right in front of us in the moat was this small (2 foot) gator.  Typical of
creatures seen around KSC.

This was the shirt available for sale and given to all the volunteers for this event.

Atlantis in front of Visitor Center KSC
The Sun was setting and I had to leave the festivities to go pick up my family
at the Orlando airport.  As I left, I caught a final glimpse of Atlantis prior to
her entry into her final home.  That night they would have fireworks to
celebrate.  We had beautiful weather that day.

Having fun at KSC - Day 2

The next day was one of my best days ever.  With Aggie and the kids, we saw Atlantis during a VIP access session, enjoyed the Visitor's Center's offering, and then went to Orlando to Downtown Disney.  There, we ate a nice dinner and saw a Cirque show.  

KSC visitor center
We arrived at the Visitor's Center and had an up-close reserved spot.

KSC rocket garden
On our way in we stopped for a picture in the rocket garden.

NASA meatball KSC
To the stars!

Aruba flag with Atlantis
The night before, Atlantis was parked into the building, which will be completed around her.  She will be up in the air, and rolled at an angle of 43.210 degrees (similar to a countdown).  We were allowed a VIP access to see her first thing this morning.

Kids with Atlantis
Stephanie flew from Pittsburgh, so this also represented a reunion for us.  We were so happy to be together and it recalls the trips we used to make to Florida for the Hubble servicing missions were we would enjoy launches and Disney World.

Atlantis wrapped up
Photo from  A few days later, they would apply a shrink wrap to Atlantis to protect her from construction debris.

Atlantis with doors open
Another update from May 2013 from

After spending some time with the other visiting booths at the Visitor's Center (such as for Chandra X-ray telescope and JWST), we headed to Orlando and Downtown Disney.  This recalls the fun times we had at Disney in past years.  We had icecream at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop, and then dinner at the T-Rex Restaurant.

T-Rex Downtown Disney
Dinner at the T-Rex restaurant which is decorated in dinosaur theme.  We enjoyed the meal and being together from Stephanie's absence at CMU.

La Nouba Cirque show
That night we went to see the La Nouba Cirque show at Downtown Disney.  

It was the ending of one of my favorite weekends ever.

Update, we returned to Florida and KSC in 2018.  This is the
Facebook album for that trip.

Atlantis at KSC
One of my favorite images of the display.  Atlantis
is mounted at 43.210 degrees to
evoke the 4-3-2-1 countdown.
(image from May 2018)

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