Space Shuttle Atlantis in the Vehicle Assembly Building
3 February 2012

I visited Kennedy Space Center on an overcast and windy Friday to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis that had recently replaced the Space Shuttle Endeavour in temporary storage in the Vehicle Assembly Building. Both of these Shuttles, along with the Space Shuttle Discovery, are currently being prepared for museum display.

RIGHT: Inside the cavernous VAB; from the ground to the ceiling far above is 52-stories of work space for assembling large rockets.

A view of Atlantis in storage in High Bay Four of the VAB.
Like Endeavour on the last visit, the gutting of Atlantis can be clearly seen. The bulbous Orbital Maneuvering System pods that straddled either side of the vertical tail fin are gone along with the Main Engines in the unseen rear of the vehicle. The plastic over the hole in the nose protects the space where the Reaction Control System has been removed. All these elements and more from inside each of the Shuttles are planned as a cost saving measure to be incorporated into the first flights of the follow-up Space Launch System---if it ever reaches flight stage---affording some parts of the Shuttles one last trip into space. Cosmetic replacements will make the Shuttles look whole again when they go on museum display.
The windows on the Flight Deck are at top while the ingress/egress hatch below Atlantis' name marks the entrance to the Mid-Deck.
The truck in the background below Atlantis gives some scale to the picture.
Atlantis flew the last mission of the Space Shuttle Program, STS-135, in July 2011.
At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the remnants of the memorial held two days earlier commemorating the ninth anniversary of the Columbia disaster were still on display.
A collage of photographs taken around the construction site for the building where Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
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