Facebook Page
A Visit To Space Shuttle Atlantis - Cape Canaveral, FL
  The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located in Cape Canaveral, FL near the city of Titusville which is about an hour's drive from Orlando. This iconic display of everything space-related is located near the actual launch facilities that every space shuttle mission began at. If you're a fan of space travel and science in general, you need to see this place! Aside from the incredible facility that was built around the Atlantis, there are several displays about past space missions. Among the many displays are the actual walkway that Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Mike Collins walked across upon entering the Apollo 11 Command Module before launch. There is also a display of the future of manned space travel, the Orion Spacecraft. Another thing you need to check out here is the Shuttle Launch Experience, where you'll be placed in a "virtual" vehicle in the payload bay of the shuttle, then experience what it feels like to launch! This is yet another museum where you could easily spend more than one day just trying to see everything! Of course, my goal today was to see Atlantis.
  According to NASA, Atlantis was named after the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966. It's first mission was STS-51J which launched on October 3rd, 1985 . Atlantis flew 33 missions with its final being STS-135 which began on July 8th, 2011 having flown a total of 125,935,769 miles. It also flew the final space shuttle mission before the program ended. When you go to see the shuttle, you first enter a huge building that was constructed around the shuttle, and you'll see quotes from different engineers and employees of NASA printed on the walls as you walk up the stairs in the building, and they describe how great it was working on the shuttle! You'll then enter into a dark room where a large screen will show a short movie about the beginnings of the Space Shuttle Program, going over the idea of building a reusable spacecraft. You'll then enter into another large room showing another brief film before entering the main exhibit hall which features the actual shuttle. The shuttle is set up on an angle with the payload bay doors open allowing you to see what the inside of the payload bay looks like. One thing I was able to do here (and also at the California Science Center as you'll see later), was use a tripod to get photos so some of the pix you'll see on this page were Manual HDR images, rather than always using a higher ISO and the flash on the camera. Included below is some interesting trivia bout the Atlantis, and after that, check out the photos!!!
As soon as you walk into the main exhibit hall, you see Atlantis situated on an angle with the payload bay doors open and the Canadarm
stretched out to show what it would look like while in the middle of a mission in space.
The purple lighting effect in this photo happened as a result of special lighting that shines down on the shuttle when you first walk in the exhibit hall.
Looking at the rear of the shuttle, and its three enormous engines along with the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engines (the two smaller engines)!!!
Another view of the engines from a different angle.
A view over one of the wings.
A view of Atlantis' undercarriage. Thousands of those little tiles are what kept the shuttle together when re-entering the earth's atmosphere!!!
A view inside the shuttle's payload bay. Shuttle payload bays carried everything from parts to build the International Space Station to the Hubble Telescope!
The building housing the shuttle has two levels, this view is from the lower level.
A view from the lower level at one of Atlantis' very impressive wings!
Another photo brought to you by the wide-angle lens! The shuttle measures 122ft long with a 78ft wingspan.
Another view of the shuttle's engines.
Looking inside the payload bay, we see 2 Canadarms on display. In front of the bay, is the Crew Compartment where astronauts would live during a mission.
The back of the payload bay, in front of the engines.
A "profile" view of Atlantis' nose and the Crew Hatch.
And you thought the engine in your Chevy Silverado 3500 had a lot of horsepower!!!
Here's a zoomed in view of the cockpit!
Like at the previous two shuttles, I needed proof I was here too!!!
The Shuttle Launch Experience is among the great interactive activities you can participate in while here! I recommend it!
Now I can't talk about the shuttles without remembering the fact that there are two space shuttles that sadly we'll never see again. On January 28th, 1986,
we lost Space Shuttle Challenger shortly after liftoff, and on February 1st, 2003, we lost Space Shuttle Columbia as it was making its re-entry into the
atmosphere. This display (and something like this was on display at the other museums as well) remembers those astronauts who made the
ultimate sacrifice on those two shuttles. May all of these brave astronauts rest in peace.
The Airstream "camper" that transported the astronauts to the shuttle before launch.
When you enter the visitor complex, you see that external tank and rocket boosters, it's located just outside the building where the shuttle is located.
This beautiful fountain display has a very powerful quote from former President John F. Kennedy and is seen as you enter the complex.
Here's a close-up view of the very powerful and inspirational quote from President Kennedy, whom this facility is named after.
The bridge to the Command Module of Apollo 11. This is the same bridge that Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Mike Collins walked across
so as to enter the spacecraft before launch in 1969, on the way to the first successful moon landing mission.
Several different rockets that were used in different forms of manned space flight.
LEFT: The Solid Rocket Boosters and External Tank greet you outside the Atlantis' building.
RIGHT: Announcing the first flight of the Orion Spacecraft (It was a complete success).
And here is the future of manned space flight! This is the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. By the time this travelogue went live, NASA had
successfully launched one of these vehicles unmanned for a brief test mission on a Delta IV rocket The hope one day is to get to Mars!
On the drive back to Orlando, I stopped by the Astronaut Hall Of Fame to photograph the "Space Shuttle Inspiration" which was never an actual
shuttle, rather just built for display. It does however have a walkway extending to it so as to take tours inside, when the Hall Of Fame is open.
  This is one place I will remember visiting for the rest of my life! It's amazing that right in the area where this signature museum is located, is where all of the space shuttles were launched, and that the future of space exploration will still originate here as well. After spending a truly wonderful day here, I would make the drive back to Orlando, getting stuck in a massive amount of traffic on the way! I would then spend the rest of the evening doing laundry and packing up for the next leg of this trip. For more information on the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, check out their official site by clicking the link below. Special thanks goes to NASA and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for information on this page about the shuttle and other great exhibits depicted here. Coming up next will be 5, yes FIVE straight days of train riding, destination: Los Angeles!!! Space Shuttle Endeavour is there waiting for me at the California Science Center so please join me on a true transcontinental journey to get there, I've been waiting for this for a long time!!!