Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Atlantis Museum Begins

Click the arrow to watch the Florida Today video. You may be subjected to an ad first.

Florida Today reports that work has begun on the new Atlantis museum at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The Visitor Complex hopes to receive Atlantis from NASA by this time next year, rolling it into a partially completed, $100 million exhibit building under a timeline accelerated several months from earlier plans.

“There’s quite a bit of work to do even after the orbiter is there, so fitting it in in that (late 2012) time frame really works out well for us,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the complex managed by Delaware North Cos. Parks and Resorts.

Moving up Atlantis’ delivery from early 2013 is one of several changes NASA and contractor teams are juggling as they prepare the shuttle fleet for museum display, including a first ferry flight less than five months from now.

The article notes that vacating OPF-2 will make available the hangar for a potential commercial crew occupant. OPF-3 is now occupied by Boeing for the CST-100, and OPF-1 is committed to an unnamed tenant.

According to the article, several parts will be removed from the orbiters before museum delivery, to be used in the Space Launch System.

After September’s announcement of plans to develop a giant new rocket for human exploration missions, NASA decided to save substantial sections of the orbiters’ propulsion system plumbing for the new program.

The relatively late request from the heavy-lift rocket program requires foot-wide propellant feed lines and lots of supporting components — a list filling six pages — to be disassembled and removed from Atlantis and Endeavour.

To make room for the museum, the KSCVC has removed the iconic external tank and solid rocket boosters that stood at the entrance. Florida Today has a time-lapse video of yesterday's removal:

Click the arrow to watch the video. You may be subjected to an ad first.

According to Bright House News 13, the tank and boosters will be stored at KSC's transfer and disposal yard until a new home is found.

Below are images from of construction work yesterday to remove the ET and SRBs:

UPDATE November 30, 2011 8:15 AM has more on the KSCVC renovations.

"The SRBs were put on display in Shuttle Plaza in 1994, and that was followed by the external tank in 1997," Visitor Complex spokesperson Andrea Farmer said in an interview with collectSPACE.

The boosters and tank, which are representative of the propulsion components that launched the space shuttle orbiters for the 30 years between 1981 and 2011, are a mixture of real and replica hardware.

"The external tank was a 'fit-check' tank, a full-size mockup, that came from the Stennis Space Center [in Mississippi]," Farmer said. "For the SRB's, the aft skirts and nose cones are fiberglass, and then for the four segments [in between], two are steel and two of them are filament."

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