I ventured down to Brevard County, FLA a few weekends ago to visit a legend. It’s not a person but rather a man-made masterpiece. Housed in a 90,000 square foot building, Space Shuttle Atlantis found its forever home at the Kennedy Space Center in June of 2013.
On July 8th, 2011, Atlantis lifted off one final time bringing 30 years of the shuttle program to a close. I was lucky enough to be on site that day with space guru’s from all over the world. It was a pivotal moment in my life, it was the day I realized what I was most passionate for…space and photography.
Going to the exhibit was a big deal to me. I felt like a kid on Christmas! My family came with me and we were ready to see the legend up close and personal. We entered the exhibit by walking under a full-scale mock-up of the external tank and solid rocket boosters. I stood small under them gazing up at the forces that powered Atlantis to the stars. The sight will put you in awe but the best is yet to be experienced! The Atlantis exhibit is dedicated to the many men and women who were involved in the shuttle program. My family and friend’s family members contributed to the program and were a part of its 30 year journey. An incredible feature as you walk through the exhibit halls is seeing the quotes from these men and women. My heart rate increases as I walk through, knowing that the quotes on the wall lead to up to the orbiter. It was so incredible walking through the exhibit that I won’t give any of the details away-you have to go see it for yourself to get the full effect! The moment the orbiter appears in my sight, I throw my hand over my mouth and start to tear up. She’s brilliant. Magnificent. She is grand. I walk in facing Atlantis’ nose and I am completely speechless. Atlantis is tilted at an angle as if to be flying in space. Her payload doors are open, Canada arm extended. She is exactly how she should be, on display in her element. The lighting in the room changes and creates a mood so powerful that I couldn’t help but just stare at her. You could spend an entire day there. The exhibit has so much to see and do. After almost an hour on the top floor, I had to force myself down to the bottom floor where Atlantis’ underbelly is completely exposed. The tiles that cover the bottom of the orbiter are in the same condition they were in when she returned home from her final journey.
Another note-worthy part of the exhibit is a touching tribute to the men and women whose lives were taken in the Challenger and Columbia accidents. A dimly lit memorial gives you a chance to remember that these men and women risked their lives for exploration. I took a few moments of silence with the memorial.
The exhibit is overall an incredible sight to see. Now I may be biased but even my not-so-space loving brother was in awe. I highly recommend all of my followers check it out! It’s a great way to honor an incredible space program! For more information on Atlantis and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex visit http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/ .
Nose to Nose.
Up close to Atlantis
My father saw man land on the moon. This picture really shows his love of space exploration.