St Louis, MO, USA (April 15, 2013) — Tremendous progress can be seen in Cape Canaveral, Fla. as the exterior of the new PGAV Destinations-designed Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex nears completion and its External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters (ET/SRB) begin to rise nearly 15 stories into the sky. That’s seven feet taller than Niagara Falls.
The ET/SRB sits directly outside the new exhibit and above the entry-way, serving as one of the main icons guests will see as they approach the Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts-managed new exhibit, opening June 29, 2013.
Historically, the ET/SRB assembly was the powerhouse behind propelling and carrying shuttles like Atlantis into space. The large, orange tank – known as the External Tank – holds nearly 535,000 gallons of super cold liquid hydrogen, the second-coldest known chemical; and liquid oxygen, chilled to minus 297 degrees. Debuting in 1981, the ET/SRB assembly could generate seven million pounds of thrust at lift-off. This immense force could accelerate the 4.5 million pound shuttle stack to 3,500 m.p.h. and 24 miles high in just two minutes. After burning 11,000 pounds of fuel every second, the boosters would parachute into the ocean for re-use while the external tank burned up in the atmosphere.
“I will never forget the feeling of having those massive rockets beneath me, launching me and my crew into space,” said space shuttle astronaut Jon McBride, a close consultant on the project. “For the first two minutes that the SRBs are firing, it’s an incredibly loud, rattling, thrilling ride accelerating you to three times the force of gravity. It’s pretty incredible to see that kind of power sitting peacefully over the new entrance now.”
The envelope of the building which houses Space Shuttle Atlantis is nearing completion, featuring two sweeping “wings” representing the space shuttle’s launch and return. The outer layer of the building is cloaked in iridescent hues of orange and gold while the tallest wing of the building is covered in a shimmering tile pattern of various grays, all representing the shuttle’s design and launch. The 90,000 square foot building is designed to meet LEED Silver sustainability standards upon completion.
“With just ten weeks to go until Space Shuttle Atlantis opens, we couldn’t be happier with the progress we see,” said PGAV Destinations principal Mike Konzen. “Three years ago we set out with Delaware North and NASA to create the world’s premiere space exploration exhibit and attraction, and I’m certain that’s exactly what this is going to be later this summer.”
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex revealed the name, opening date, and visual identity of the new 90,000 square-foot, $100m exhibit earlier this year. Space Shuttle Atlantis’ identity incorporates many elements of NASA’s space program, including shuttle launch and re-entry, excitement, drama, pride, and patriotism. The destination will be installing and revealing an unwrapped Space Shuttle Atlantis, opened payload bay doors, Canadarm (robotic arm), and a full-scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope later this spring.
PHOTOS COURTESY KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR COMPLEX