Space Shuttle Atlantis is the final resting place for the last space-flown shuttle, Atlantis, which has been to space and back 33 times. In addition to Atlantis, there are a multitude of NASA artifacts, including models of the International Space Station and Hubble Telescope. The facility also includes a full-size, self-supporting model of a Exterior Tank and Solid Rocket Booster that visitors walk under to enter the building. The exterior of the building includes metal panels that symbolize the bottom tiles of the shuttle, as well as the speed of re-entry back into Earth’s atmosphere. The facility also includes a state-of-the-art theater to tell the story of the shuttle program.
The guest ticketing entrance includes a welcome center, retail space, ticket kiosks and restaurant. There is also a fountain featuring the bust and a quote of the late President John F. Kennedy. The entrance also includes the Vapor Trail, which is part of the themed pathway throughout the entire park.
This project was highly phased due to the importance of protecting the priceless space shuttle. Three sides, the roof and all overhead rough-in and fixtures were completed prior to the delivery of Atlantis. Whiting-Turner closely coordinated with NASA, who set the space shuttle and other artifacts in place. The space shuttle was shrink-wrapped for five months after being set in place, while the rest of the project was finished around it. This included 270-degree viewing ramp built around the shuttle, and the lower wing was protected via a detailed scaffold/plywood system. This is truly a one-of-a-kind project, as all NASA space shuttles have been delivered to their final destinations.
This project achieved LEED® Silver certification.