Attraction on Track for June 29 Grand Opening with Vertical Installation of Full-Size,
High Fidelity Models of Twin Solid Rocket Boosters at Entrance
Using a 200-foot-tall crane, the construction crew successfully installed lower portions of two full-size, high-fidelity solid rocket boosters (SRBs) that, when vertically mated with a high-fidelity model of the external tank (ET), will form a dramatic, 184-foot-tall gateway under which visitors will pass to visit the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction.
The high-fidelity booster models require six stages of assembly, half of which are now complete. The crane recently hoisted two segments that sit atop the base to be later configured as the cone-shaped booster nozzle also known as the “aft skirt.” In the coming weeks, another segment will be added and then topped off with the nose cone. After being raised and placed, workers secure and weld each section.
When completely assembled, the two 12-foot-wide SRBs will stand 149 feet tall, or half the length of an American football field. The SRBs will support the orange external fuel tank (ET) to be installed beginning in late April. At 154 feet long and 27.6 feet in diameter, the ET is the largest element of the space shuttle “stack” and was often called the backbone of the system. It will be raised 24 feet in the air between the twin SRBs, reaching a height of 184 feet—taller than an 18-story building. Once the massive structure is complete, it will serve as a beacon to guests, visible for miles, particularly when lighted at night. Although the public is accustomed to seeing images of the orbiter (or shuttle) mated to the SRBs and ET, the majestic gateway at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will feature only the white boosters and orange external tank, building excitement for the dramatic reveal of the authentic Atlantis orbiter inside.
“It’s one thing for us to announce details and statistics about Space Shuttle Atlantis and its dramatic, 184-foot-tall entrance, but it is quite another to actually be here in person, standing at the foot of these absolutely massive high-fidelity space shuttle components,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “Starting June 29, visitors will be able to get up close to the boosters and external tank in a way that only NASA personnel have been able to experience before. Should guests stop for just a moment and imagine the brave astronauts inside Atlantis, strapped to these explosive, fuel-filled SRBs and ET and rocketing into space, goose bumps are guaranteed. And that’s before guests even set foot inside.”
St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations designed Space Shuttle Atlantis in partnership with NASA and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Penwal Industries Inc., a California-based company that creates custom engineering and fabrication, designed and manufactured the model SRBs and ET.
In use throughout the 30-year history of the Space Shuttle Program, the solid rocket boosters and external tank provided the fuel to launch NASA’s orbiters into space. The SRBs burned more than two million pounds of fuel as they accelerated the space shuttle to 3,500 miles per hour for approximately two minutes. They were then jettisoned over the Atlantic Ocean to be recovered and used for future missions. The ET received its trademark orange color from spray-on foam insulation that was used in conjunction with other materials to help prevent ice build-up and protect the tank from aerodynamic heating. It supplied the space shuttle’s three main engines with 535,277 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which was consumed in approximately eight and a half minutes. The tank was then jettisoned as the vehicle reached orbit, disintegrating in Earth’s atmosphere.
Space Shuttle Atlantis will do more than showcase the priceless aircraft that flew in space 33 times — state-of-the-art multimedia presentations and more than 60 interactive exhibits and high-tech simulators will bring to life the complex components and systems behind this incredible feat of engineering. One of the most complicated and sophisticated pieces of equipment ever built, the shuttle was a vehicle that launched like a rocket, flew in orbit like a spacecraft and landed on a runway like a glider. The immersive experience also will shine a spotlight on the astounding achievements made over the course of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program, most notably, the building of the International Space Station and the launch and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope. The 90,000-square-foot Space Shuttle Atlantis is the marquee element of the Visitor Complex’s 10-year master plan by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, which has operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA since 1995.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is not funded through tax dollars or appropriated funds. The revenue generated by ticket, food and merchandise sales supports the operation, maintenance and development of the Visitor Complex, including the new Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Video of the solid rocket booster installation will be available after 2 p.m. for download:
Photographs and a rendering of the Space Shuttle Atlantis entry featuring the solid rocket
boosters will be available at http://media.delawarenorth.com/
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun and educational activities, including the Kennedy Space Center Tour featuring the Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket, the new Angry Birds™ Space Encounter, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter,Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and many other interactive exhibits. The new $100 million home for Space Shuttle Atlantis opens June 29, 2013. Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world's largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia, which opens daily at noon and closing times vary by season. Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. with closing times varying by season. Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander's Club Annual Pass is $63+ tax for adults and $53 + tax for children ages 3-11. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.
About PGAV Destinations
PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. Now in its fifth decade, the practice has evolved to become the ideal destination-consulting partner, skilled at developing growth-oriented master plans and translating those plans into successful projects. No other firm offers such an integrated approach to destination planning.
PGAV's key clients include industry leaders such as Delaware North Companies, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Biltmore Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Ameristar Casinos, Universal Studios, The Gettysburg Foundation, the St. Louis Zoo, and many others. Recent assignments include planning and design at many of the world's "must see" destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Biltmore Estate, NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Hearst Castle, the Georgia Aquarium, the Hoover Dam, and SeaWorld Adventure Parks. www.PGAVDestinations.com<http://www.pgavdestinations.com/>"