The ground-breaking ceremony for the new visitor centre set to house the retired space shuttle Atlantis has taken place at the Kennedy Space Centre in Orlando, Florida.
The new exhibition space is expected to be ready to welcome its first visitors in summer 2013, and will cost around $100 million (£64.8 million) to complete. The 65,000 sq ft area will provide visitors to the Space Centre with a unique chance to get up close to the remarkable vehicle, which has travelled to space and back an amazing 33 times.
The exhibition will also feature a comprehensive look at the entire 30-year space shuttle programme, guiding visitors through the history of the craft using a variety of hands-on, interactive displays. The ceremony for breaking ground on the new facility was attended by a number of special guests, including astronauts, tourism chiefs and the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex chief operating officer Bill Moore. Mr Moore said the new extension to the Visitor Complex would be the “crown jewel” in a series of improvements to the facility over the next ten years.
“Today marks the start of a new era in which this magnificent ship, Atlantis, which has travelled to space and back an astounding 33 times, will remain docked in her home port, displayed in all her glory,” said Mr Moore.
Visitors to the new attraction will also be able to tour the main space centre, walk through the US Astronaut Hall of Fame and watch screenings of 3D IMAX movies in the centre’s cinema.
Image source: The Boeing Company