Parading into Retirement Part II

And then there was one. With orbiters Discovery and Endeavour now delivered to their respective museums only Atlantis was left inside the confines of Kennedy Space Center. I caught up with Atlantis on the day before the move inside High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building. The very first time I saw an orbiter up close inside the VAB it was Atlantis as she was being prepared for lift and mate ahead of the final mission of the space shuttle program, STS-135. And the last time I would see an orbiter inside the VAB it would once again be Atlantis.

By laying on the floor I was able to get this wide-angle view looking up at the nose of Atlantis. Underneath the orbiter is the OTS, Orbiter Transportation System, which assisted with the moves of all the shuttles between their processing facilities and the VAB during mission processing. It would once again assist with the final move of Atlantis to the visitor complex.

A unique view of Atlantis sitting on top of the OTS, almost as though she is levitating.

Shortly before sunrise on Friday, November 2 space shuttle Atlantis left the confines of the VAB and the care of United Space Alliance where she was handed off to the crew from Beyel Brothers who would would assist with the final move.

Space shuttle Atlantis travels down Kennedy  Parkway with the VAB seen hovering in the distance.

As the sun continued to rise, Atlantis passed by the intersection of KSC Parkway and Schwartz Rd.

Surrounded by Cheryl Hurst, STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson, STS-51J Commander Karol Bobko, and Bill Moore, Administrator Charlie Bolden and Bob Cabana hold up the Assignment of  Title for Atlantis.

Atlantis makes her way through the Kennedy Space Center Exploration Park to a half day of festivities for the public.

The public surrounds Atlantis and she comes to a stop. Visitors were be provided with 360 degree views of the orbiter throughout the afternoon.

After turning off of Space Commerce Way, Atlantis made the turn on to State Route 405 for the final leg of the trip.

Atlantis, seen shortly after making the turn off of State Route 405 and on to a temporary road into her permanent exhibit hall.

Golden light shines on the nose of Atlantis.

Bill Beyel, a former shuttle contractor had the privilege of driving Atlantis to the visitor complex.

Upon arrival, Atlantis was left outside for a couple hours before being placed inside her new home. This allowed for an eight minute fireworks show. A fitting end to a program that touched many lives. I look forward to visiting the completed exhibit and I urge everyone to make an attempt to see it themselves.

I recently created a Facebook page devoted to my photography where you can stay up to date on recent shoots. Be sure to “like” the page so that you can stay up to date on what is going on!


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