KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex marked yet another major milestone today in the construction of its 90,000-square-foot, $100 million home for space shuttle Atlantis by announcing the official name and visual identity for the exhibit, as well as the grand opening date of June 29, 2013.
The exhibit not only will showcase Atlantis as if it were in space—raised 30 feet off the ground and rotated 43 degrees—but also will tell the compelling story of the entire shuttle program, including the thousands of people behind this incredible feat of engineering, its key role in the development of the International Space Station and the launch and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as how it paved the way for today’s new space programs and the future of space exploration.
More than 60 interactive, immersive exhibits and simulators will provide guests a never-before-experienced perspective on the shuttle’s complex systems, components and capabilities.
“We are so proud to partner with NASA to build the only place in the world to experience the remarkable voyage of Atlantis – one of the most storied spacecrafts in the U.S. space program. Without question, Kennedy Space Center is the best place to experience, learn about and be inspired by space exploration – past, present and future. With the addition of Space Shuttle Atlantis to the world-class Visitor Complex, visitors can now experience a space shuttle in “flight” – which is truly an engineering marvel,” said Rick Abramson, who was president and chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and is now president of Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts.
To create the multimillion-dollar, one-of-a-kind home for Atlantis—including its name and visual identity, or logo—Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and NASA have been working in partnership with St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations, a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations with nearly 50 years’ experience in the attractions/destinations industry.
After weeks of development and testing, dozens, if not hundreds of name combinations were considered. All agreed that the name must convey emotion, fun, excitement and inspiration, and should be easy for both adults and children to understand, repeat and remember. Ultimately, the partners chose to go with a simple name that resonated the most powerfully with guests— “Space Shuttle Atlantis.”
“Although the multimillion-dollar interactive exhibit encompasses much, much more than the display of Atlantis, there is no denying, she is truly the star of the show,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
“We know that this majestic beauty, which safely ferried men and women to space and back on 33 successful missions, is the real reason that our guests will travel thousands of miles, across oceans and across continents to visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to see her in all her glory. There are no words to accurately describe the emotions and insights guests will gain when this attraction opens this summer, for there has truly never been anything like it before. Therefore, we decided to be true to the heart and soul of the exhibit and name it simply and reverently, Space Shuttle Atlantis,” Moore said.
Mike Konzen, principal of PGAV Destinations, said the logo for Space Shuttle Atlantis was created in a gradient of fiery oranges representative of the shuttle’s launch and re-entry to Earth. These symbolic colors also were used in the metallic “swish” representing the shuttles’ re-entry on the outside of the new exhibit building. The light-to-dark range in the lettering conveys the excitement and drama of the shuttle program while the iconic silhouette of the orbiter, or shuttle, is aptly used to represent the “A” in Atlantis. The NASA insignia, or “meatball,” serves as a reminder of the pride and patriotism in America’s space program, while the words “Kennedy Space Center” pay tribute to the launch site of each of the Space Shuttle Program’s 135 missions.
The logo will appear on monument signage at the entry, on a variety of retail merchandise, on marketing and promotional materials, and complements the new Space Shuttle Atlantis in inspiring future space explorers.
Next month marks another milestone in the exhibit’s construction with the beginning of the installation of a full-scale external tank and two solid rocket boosters at the entry to Space Shuttle Atlantis. These components of the space shuttle “stack” will serve as a grand gateway, with guests walking beneath the massive orange external tank, which will be suspended 24 feet above the ground, mounted between the two solid rocket boosters and reaching 185 feet 11/16 inches tall into the air. Installation of the entryway structure will be completed in June.
Construction continues on schedule inside the exhibit as well. In May, Atlantis will be unwrapped from the shrink wrap that was applied in November 2012 to protect it from construction dust and debris. The payload bay doors will be opened and a full-scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope. This view, with Atlantis rotated 43 degrees, showcases the shuttle on an angle as if it were in space, as only the astronauts from its 33 missions have had a chance to see from the International Space Station. Atlantis’ Canadarm (robotic arm) also will be extended.
In the meantime, other exciting events are taking shape at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including:
Angry Birds™ Space Encounter: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has partnered with Rovio Entertainment, creator of the globally successful Angry Birds™ franchise, including Angry Birds Space, to bring the popular game and characters to life. The Angry Birds Space Encounter, set to open at the Visitor Complex in the spring, will be the first comprehensive, interactive Angry Birds attraction in the United States designed for people of all ages.
KSC Up-Close Tours Extended: Visitors can share mankind’s greatest achievements and future of the space program with the entire family and receive rare behind-the-scenes access to areas of Kennedy Space Center that have been off limits to the public for decades. The KSC Up-Close Tour Series includes tours of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), Launch Control Center (LCC), and Launch Pad. The VAB tour has been extended through 2013, and the LCC and Launch Pad tours are confirmed through June 30.
Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Curt Brown, Eileen Collins and Bonnie Dunbar, Ph.D., join an elite group of American space heroes as they are inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® on April 20, during a ceremony at the Visitor Complex. This induction is the 12th group of space shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and the first time two women will be inducted at the same time. These retired NASA space shuttle astronauts also share a commonality in their spaceflight history, as they each flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis during their careers. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex welcomes these former Atlantis astronauts to the Hall of Fame in the same year as the opening of space shuttle Atlantis’ new home.
2013 Scheduled Rocket Launches: An ambitious program of 12 planned launches continues from the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station—with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex often providing the best viewing opportunities—including three launches in March:
March 1– Falcon 9/SpaceX CRS2 delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS)
March 14 – Atlas V/Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous satellite
March – Delta 4/Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft