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Atlantis has a new home

After 33 missions into space, NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis has a new home. The shuttle is part of a new $100 million exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex which will immerse visitors in the space experience.

The exhibit opens June 29 and will weave first-hand accounts from astronauts and flight engineers, along with the history of NASA, into 60 interactive displays. The displays will touch on everything from launches and orbits to how a space station is assembled.

But the centerpiece of the exhibit is Atlantis. Visitors will be able to get an up-close, 360-degree view of one of the world's first reusable spacecraft. Robert Z. Pearlman of recently toured the exhibit during a preview of the grand opening. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

In November 2012, Atlantis was moved to center's visitor complex aboard the 76-wheel Orbiter Transporter System. It took around 12 hours to move the shuttle 9.8 miles from the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building to its new exhibit facility.

An 184-foot-tall, full-scale replica of the Atlantis' solid rocket boosters and external tank sits at the entryway to the exhibit building at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Suspended 30 feet in the air

Atlantis is suspended 30 feet in the air and angled 43 degrees to one side to let visitors tour every detail of the shuttle. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Cargo doors open

With the cargo doors opened and the shuttle tilted, visitors can get a good view of the interior as well. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Atlantis' main engines

As visitors walk around, along, and under the shuttle they can get a close-up look at its main engines, which once burned at 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit and emitted exhaust traveling Mach 10. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Underside of Atlantis

The angle of the shuttle gives visitors the chance to see the underbelly and the thermal protection system. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Frozen in space

CollectSpace's Robert Perlman recently toured the exhibit and wrote: "With its payload bay open and a replica of its Canadarm robotic arm extended, Atlantis looks less like a museum's static display than it does a still active vehicle, somehow frozen in place, as if it could soar back into orbit at any time." / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Hubble Space Telescope

The interactive, multimedia experience looks at other details of NASA's 30-year Space Shuttle Program, including the history of the International Space Station and the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Hubble Space Telescope model

Suspended 63 feet in the air, a full-size Hubble Space Telescope model hovers over guests on the lower floor of the new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Space station mockup

There's even a one-fifth scale mockup of the International Space Station. Visitors can crawl through tubes that are suspended 26 feet in the air, simulating a spacewalk, to get to the model. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Space walk simulation

The spacewalk simulating tube 26 feet up. / Robert Z. Pearlman
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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Opening June 29, the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit is the new home of a priceless, historic spacecraft that tells the incredible story of NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program. The 90,000 square-foot attraction is the marquee element of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's 10-year master plan.

NASA on the space shuttle program: "One of the most complicated and sophisticated pieces of equipment ever built, the shuttle is a vehicle that launched like a rocket, flew in orbit like a spacecraft and landed on a runway like a glider." / Robert Z. Pearlman
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