Author Topic: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey  (Read 20941 times)

Offline Overflow

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July 7th, 2011: I remember gazing up at Atlantis. The shuttle that beat all the odds. The shuttle that refused to retire. She wasn't the most famous Space Shuttle, but she was just as special. She would be the last shuttle to thunder the skies of Florida while carrying the hopes, dreams, and memories of those who watched her and worked on her. I remember just standing there.. Shaking my head. I couldn't believe that this was actually happening. We were about to fly the Space Shuttle for the last time tomorrow. Before heading back to the Visitor Complex, I turned around one last time and gave a final nod to Atlantis. I didn't know when, and if, I'd ever see her again.

While the great workers at KSC went against their heart and tore wires and cords out of Atlantis, I was one of the many people that watched her inch into retirement.

Once it was time for her to see the sun for the final time, I was one of the many people who helped document her move on NasaSpaceFlight.com.

Then came the long months of construction on her exhibit. And as her Grand Opening inched closer and closer, I began to realize that I would be seeing Atlantis a lot sooner than I originally thought. It had been almost 2 years to the day since the last time I saw Atlantis, when the day finally came..

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #1 on: 07/21/2013 12:35 AM »
The day began early. It had been the first time I got up at 4:30 AM since I can remember. Luckily, I did the smart thing and packed the day before so all that was left to do was jump in the car and go.

Honestly, I don't remember much about the drive except I stopped at a Space Shuttle themed McDonalds in Titusville for breakfast since I had arrived earlier than planned.

It was about 8:00 when I headed back to KSCVC. First I stopped at the Astronaut Hall of Fame to get pictures of Space Shuttle Inspiration, something I had never gotten the chance to do.

Once I stopped paying attention to Inspiration vanishing in my rear view mirror, I noticed something in the skyline. Something that I know wasn't a part of nature. Once I got my bearings, I knew EXACTLY what it was.

After that, I realized that I had about 20 minutes to spare before KSCVC opened. So I stopped at the KSC badge center which was right next to KSCVC and got some pictures of the Atlantis exhibit.

Once the clock struck 9 AM, I made my way into the Visitor Complex parking lot, and eventually the complex itself. Believe me when I say this, it's hard to even notice the Rocket Garden when you have a Space Shuttle stack looming above you.

It's funny, because once you clear the cafeteria area, Atlantis is right there.

Wow. This is where I became speechless for hours. And for anyone that has met me in person, you know that that takes a lot.

I just stood under the stack and stared upward. That's all I could do. And I tried my best to invision Discovery, Atlantis, or Endeavour attached to the stack. It was a sight I knew no one would ever see again.

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #2 on: 07/21/2013 12:41 AM »
The second you walk into the hallway leading up to the first pre show, you hear the space theme music. It snaps you into the science mood for sure. You walk by the glass windows that give you a great view of the stack.

Then you walk by pictures of Atlantis and quotes made by the people who cared for her. You then remember that this exhibit isn't just about an orbiter, it's about a team. A team that struck tragedy and success. It's an exhibit about the best team on the planet.

You then enter a room for the first pre show.

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #3 on: 07/21/2013 12:50 AM »
I'm gonna try my best to give a good review on the pre shows, without spoiling them for other people.

The first pre show gives you a look at the countless hours of planning that went into making Atlantis and her sisters a reality. It shows that there were many times, where the shuttle looked like it just wasn't gonna happen. But NASA pulled through. The pre show brings you to just before the launch of STS-1. You then enter another room.

I took a video of the next show that I'll be using in a larger Atlantis video.

Now this show.. was simply fantastic. If you're going to get a lump in your throat at all during this exhibit, THIS will be the part. This video was put together exceptionally well. My dad, who isn't a space geek at all, told me that he felt a great deal of pride for his country after seeing this show. I can't put this show into words. Simply, you will have to see it yourself to get the full effect.

At the very end of the show, Atlantis is revealed to you in such a way.. that let's just say, it'll make your allergies "act up".  ;)

For those who have never been this close to an orbiter before, let me just warn you. Atlantis. Is. HUGE.




Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #4 on: 07/21/2013 12:56 AM »
I then began a very slow circle around Atlantis. I didn't want to miss any details.

I don't know about the other visitors, but the closer I got to look at Atlantis' burn marks, the more respect at had for her.

I remember a NSF member saying that the grey patch on Atlantis' payload bay door was caused by him, so I figured that I'd get a picture of it for him.

When looking at Atlantis, you can't think about anything else. You forget about the world around you, and just take in Atlantis. You try your best to imagine her launching, orbiting, and landing.


Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #5 on: 07/21/2013 01:03 AM »
Once you move to Atlantis' RSME's, your breath is taken once again. If you turn around and you'll notice a SSME. You can get a close look at the SSME and notice how complex, yet simple these engines were.

From the SSME, if you turn around and look at Atlantis, you'll get one of my most favorite views of Atlantis.


Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #6 on: 07/21/2013 01:10 AM »
I then walked up to the upper level of the Atlantis exhibit. The mock Atlantis cockpit may look like nothing special, but this thing was pretty cool. It all looked very realistic inside.

After bringing out my inner child out and playing in this mock up, I kept heading up and read the displays about Atlantis and looked at some artifacts from the shuttle.

BEWARE: Atlantis will be peeking to try to get a closer look at you.  ;)

After this, I remember heading back over to the RSMEs to get another look.

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #7 on: 07/21/2013 01:16 AM »
Then you walk up on Hubble; One of the Shuttle's greatest achievements. Don't forget, this is the closest you'll get to see what Hubble looked like.

There's a movie playing behind Hubble that shows the struggle that Hubble was. I watched a little of it, but honestly, with Atlantis peering over your right shoulder, it's hard to concentrate on the film.

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #8 on: 07/21/2013 01:20 AM »
After this, I headed to back to the RSME's and get my first look at the ISS play set, and also, the THOUSANDS of tiles on Atlantis' belly.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #9 on: 07/21/2013 01:23 AM »
Wonderful gift you have given us in sharing your visit with Altlantis. It made me feel like I was there with you. Thank you for that...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #10 on: 07/21/2013 01:33 AM »
Then, you head to what I think is the coolest hallway on the planet. " Atlantis - You are GO for de-orbit burn! "  :)

This will bring you to the bottom floor. Now, you will get a real good look at the tiles.

I believe they had more historic artifacts on this floor. I really enjoyed the "We Made History Atlantis!" and "We're Behind You Atlantis!" banners. Also, touching Atlantis' STS-135 tires really made you feel like you were touching history.. If that makes any sense.

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #11 on: 07/21/2013 01:36 AM »
.

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #12 on: 07/21/2013 01:40 AM »
And before I conclude my recap of the Atlantis exhibit, I'd like to ask everyone that visits Atlantis, a favor.. Notice the small details.

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #13 on: 07/21/2013 01:48 AM »
All in all, I'll be willing to pay the KSCVC admission price, any day to see Atlantis. You will get your money's worth.

The Atlantis exhibit pays tribute to everything the Space Shuttle team was about. It is truly bittersweet. Part of you is sad that it's over, but your happy that Atlantis is displayed in a way she deserves. I have full faith that this exhibit will inspire the next generation of astronauts.

And finally, I have decided where my next Space Shuttle exhibit recap will be. In summer of 2014, I will be flying to Los Angeles, California, to visit Endeavour.

Here is a sneak peek of a video that will be in the final Atlantis video: This is a must see! It's from a different perspective.




Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #14 on: 07/21/2013 01:49 AM »
Wonderful gift you have given us in sharing your visit with Altlantis. It made me feel like I was there with you. Thank you for that...

I'm very glad that you enjoyed it.  :)

Offline brettreds2k

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #15 on: 07/21/2013 10:05 PM »
Seems they keep the crowd down which is really nice. Once in there can you stay as long as you want?
Brett
www.facebook.com/brett.lowenthal1

Orbiters I have visited in retirement:

[ ] Enterprise
[X] Discovery
[X] Atlantis
[ ] Endeavour

Offline Chris Bergin

Hey Overflow. Great photos.

Did you mean to stick to one thread, as we've got two for some reason? I can merge.

Offline Space Pete

Great photos!

Hard to think that today marked two years since her final landing.
Electronic Engineer by day, NASASpaceflight's ISS Editor by night | Read my NASASpaceflight articles here

Offline Overflow

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #18 on: 07/22/2013 01:54 AM »
Seems they keep the crowd down which is really nice. Once in there can you stay as long as you want?

It helps that I went first thing on a Friday morning. If you can, try to go on a weekday. The crowds are at a minimal.  :)

Hey Overflow. Great photos.

Did you mean to stick to one thread, as we've got two for some reason? I can merge.

Thanks Chris.

I was planning on keeping this separate, but if you want to merge it your more than welcome to. It is your forum after all.  :D

Great photos!

Hard to think that today marked two years since her final landing.

Thank you!

It really is sad. It seems so close.. Yet so far away.

Offline Orbiter

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Re: My trip to see Atlantis: The Beginning of the Journey
« Reply #19 on: 07/22/2013 02:01 AM »
Wow! I was there on the 19th right after the Atlas V launch, I got as many photos as you did.
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, SpaceX CRS-9, SpaceX JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R.

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