CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- For nearly three decades, the space shuttle Atlantis hoisted astronauts upon the shoulders of giants allowing America to live and work in earth orbit.
This weekend, the nation returns the favor as the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Center hoists Atlantis upon America's shoulders to celebrate her countless achievements in advancing humankind in space.
Nearly two years following her final space flight, she now takes center ring of a new $100 million facility for admirers to view up close.
Nestled inside the Atlantis Exhibit on America's Space Coast, NASA's fourth space worthy orbiter now rests in a 90,000 square-foot attraction, raised and tilted 43.21 degrees to the floor.
The unusual tilt is in countdown fashion, "4, 3, 2, 1 Lift-off", and allows visitors to view her belly as well as look deep inside her payload bay as a 50-foot robotic arm extends outward just as she looked as she through space.
"The space shuttle Atlantis attraction not only gives visitors the chance to get nose to nose with Atlantis, it gives them a chance to see what it's like to be an astronaut," states the chief operating officer of the Visitor's Center Bill Moore. "We're proud to launch Atlantis on its new mission, to educate and inspire a future generation of space explorers."
Atlantis' celebratory grand opening on June 29 marks the final chapter of America's space shuttle fleet.