Discover the Iconic Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center

space shuttle atlantis

Space Shuttle Atlantis is home to replicas of space equipment including two powerful rocket boosters and external tanks of Atlantis, the space shuttle orbiter vehicle belonging to NASA. It contains a beautiful display of historic space missions carried out by the vehicle. Visitors get a glimpse of every minute detail of Atlantis and learn about its historical significance.

Read on to know more about Space Shuttle Atlantis, its history, location, function, and the missions it carried out.

What is the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

Kennedy Space Center | Space Shuttle Atlantis

Space Shuttle Atlantis is responsible for giving life to NASA’s Space Shuttle program. It celebrates the historic and incredible story of the program through a flawless presentation of the different space missions carried out by Atlantis between 1985 and 2011. The complex is the permanent home of the real orbiter vehicle that orbited the Earth 4,848 times over the course of 33 missions. 

It features the original spacecraft as well as replicas of space equipment like rocket boosters and external tanks of the space shuttle. Atlantis played a significant role in space exploration because it delivered vital components to the International Space Station and also ferried and deployed the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the second of great observatories belonging to NASA, in 1991.

Quick Facts

Official Name: Atlantis OV-104

Function: It was used as an orbiter vehicle.

Date of Completion: 13th April 1985

Missions: STS-51-J, STS-61-B (1985); STS-27 (1988); STS-30, STS-34 (1989); STS-36, STS-38 (1990); STS-37, STS-43, STS-44 (1991); STS-45, STS-46 (1992); STS-66 (1994); STS-71, STS-74 (1995); STS-76, STS-79 (1996); STS-81, STS-84, STS-86 (1997); STS-101, STS-106 (2000); STS-98, STS-104 (2001); STS-110, STS-112 (2002); STS-115 (2006), STS-117 (2007), STS-122 (2008); STS-125, STS-129 (2009); STS-132 (2010), STS-135 (2011)

Size: The space shuttle orbiter vehicle was 17.2 meters tall and weighed 68,635 kg.

Owner: NASA

Location: Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex in Florida.

Where is Space Shuttle Atlantis?

Space Shuttle Atlantis is located inside the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral.

Why is the Space Shuttle Atlantis So Famous?

Kennedy Space Center | Space Shuttle Atlantis
  • Space Shuttle Atlantis was the world’s first reusable spacecraft to carry astronauts into orbit.
  • Atlantis pioneered the Shuttle-Mir missions. It flew seven missions to dock with the Russian space station.
  • It also ferried, deployed, and serviced the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, NASA’s great space observatory.
  • It helped in the construction and population of the International Space Station by ferrying and deploying vital components like the US laboratory module and several sections of the Integrated Truss Structure that are the backbone of the space station.
  • On its final space shuttle mission, Atlantis carried over 9,400 pounds of spare parts, equipment, and other supplies including food to the International Space Station and also brought back to Earth more than 5,700 pounds of unneeded materials.
  • Atlantis carried out 33 missions completing over 126 million miles and 307 days in space.

History of the Space Shuttle Atlantis

Space Shuttle Atlantis opened at the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex in June 2013 as the permanent home of the historic spacecraft that stands witness to the incredible story of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program that lasted for about three decades. It celebrates the history, technology, and impact of the program across the globe.

You get the opportunity to have a close look at Atlantis (exhibited as if it is in orbit in space with open payload bay doors and a fully extended Canadarm) and experience its greatness from different levels of the complex. More than 60 interactive and immersive exhibits offer insight into the greatest achievements known to mankind in the field of space exploration. 

Check out the replica of the Hubble Space Telescope and other space equipment belonging to Atlantis. Learn about the different parts of the orbiter, how astronauts lived aboard the space shuttle, train using high-tech simulators, go on a virtual spacewalk, experience the thrill of blasting off into space, and visit the Forever Remembered memorial honoring the astronauts who lost their lives during different space missions. 

Description of the Space Shuttle Atlantis

Kennedy Space Center | Space Shuttle Atlantis

Manufactured by Rockwell International in Southern California, the Space Shuttle Atlantis is 17.2 meters tall and weighs 68,635 kg. Named after the two-masted sailing ship RV Atlantis, Atlantis was built using aluminum and thermal insulation tiles. It was delivered to the Kennedy Space Center on 13th April 1985 and first launched on October 3 of the same year.

Space Shuttle Atlantis was used to deploy several communication satellites for the Department of Defense, including Lacrosse 1, into stationary orbit. It also ferried, deployed, and serviced the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. It aided the construction of the International Space Station by carrying over 9,400 pounds of spare parts, equipment, and other supplies including food and bringing back to Earth more than 5,700 pounds of unwanted materials.

Space Shuttle Atlantis | Missions & Launches

Kennedy Space Center | Space Shuttle Atlantis

A few notable missions of the Space Shuttle Atlantis include deploying defense satellites, including Lacrosse I, into stationary orbit. Atlantis is responsible for the final servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. It also ferried and deployed Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, NASA’s second great space observatory.

Atlantis pioneered the Shuttle-Mir missions by flying the first seven missions to dock at the Russian space station. It aided the construction and population of the International Space Station between 2000 and 2011. It carried thousands of pounds of spare parts, spare equipment, and other supplies, including food, to the station and brought unnecessary materials back to Earth. Over the course of 30 years, Atlantis had orbited the Earth 4,848 times logging 126 million miles and 307 days in space.

Can I See the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

Kennedy Space Center | Space Shuttle Atlantis

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Space Shuttle Atlantis

Q. What is the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

A. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is an orbiter vehicle responsible for giving life to NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

Q. Where is the Space Shuttle Atlantis located?

A. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is located inside the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Q. What is the Space Shuttle Atlantis famous for?

A. The Space Shuttle Atlantis was the world’s first reusable spacecraft. It is known to have deployed NASA’s second great space observatory and aided the construction of the International Space Station by carrying vital components to space.

Q. Why should I visit the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

A. Visit the Space Shuttle Atlantis to experience and know about the historic space missions carried out by the orbiter vehicle under NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

Q. How do I book tickets to visit the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

A. Book tickets to visit the Kennedy Space Center to get a good look at the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Q. How much does it cost to visit the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

A. Kennedy Space Center tickets start from $80.25.

Q. Who built the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

A. Rockwell International built the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Q. Who owns the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

A. NASA owns the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Q. When was the Space Shuttle Atlantis complete and ready for launch?

A. The Space Shuttle Atlantis was complete and ready for launch in 1985.

Q. When was the Space Shuttle Atlantis first launched?

A. The Space Shuttle was first launched on 3rd October 1985.

Q. When was the Space Shuttle Atlantis’s last launch?

A. The Space Shuttle Atlantis was last launched on 8th July 2011.

Q. How many missions/launches did the Space Shuttle Atlantis have?

A. The Space Shuttle Atlantis flew on 33 missions.

Q. How big is the Space Shuttle Atlantis?

A. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is 17.2 meters tall and weighs 68,635 kg.

Q. Why is the Space Shuttle Atlantis important?

A. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is important because it breathed life into NASA’s 30-year-long space shuttle program, deployed the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, and aided the construction of the International Space Station.

Q. Is it worth visiting the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center?

A. Yes, the Space Shuttle Atlantic is worth visiting because it is an incredible display of the orbiter vehicle and other space equipment along with more than 60 interactive exhibits highlighting the historic story of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

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