Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Things To Do

Space shuttle Atlantis exhibit to open at Kennedy Space Center

BY SUSAN THURSTON

Times Staff Writer

TITUSVILLE — Don't tell employees at the Kennedy Space Center the U.S. space program is grounded. Quite the contrary, they say, pointing to the latest rocket launches and deep-space missions.

For an example of a major investment, they talk up the $100 million home of the space shuttle Atlantis, opening to the public June 29.

The 90,000-square-foot exhibit building will house the Atlantis and tell the story of NASA's 30-year shuttle program through dozens of interactive exhibits and simulators. Visitors will be able to get within feet of the shuttle, artfully displayed 26 feet off the ground and rotated 43 degrees as if it were flying.

The orbiter is big and impressive and still dirty with asteroid dust. If it looks like it's been to hell and back, that's because it probably has been. The shuttle traveled 125 million miles during 33 missions before reaching its final resting spot at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The Atlantis is the star of a 10-year master plan for the complex operated by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts. The center recently completed construction of a $16 million entry plaza, gift shop and restaurant and added closeup tours of the Kennedy Space Center launch pad and vehicle assembly building — areas that had not been open to the public in decades. In March, it opened the Angry Birds Space Encounter.

The Atlantis exhibit significantly expands the existing Space Launch Experience on the complex's eastern edge. Guests will walk into the building under a 184-foot gateway made up of two full-size solid rocket boosters and an orange external fuel tank.

Inside, visitors will watch two 10-minute multimedia presentations about the history of the shuttle program and its importance. A 40-foot screen will rise to the ceiling, dramatically revealing the Atlantis in a darkened room with an image of earth behind it.

Designers created the exhibit for all ages and interest levels. A slide, space walk simulators and crawl-through mini International Space Station cater to young astronauts in training. Launch pad equipment and a replica of the Hubble Space Telescope (which was launched into orbit by shuttle Discovery) appeal to aeronautical fans. Everyone exits through a gift shop.

Also included is the Angry Birds Space Encounter, an attraction developed in partnership with Rovio Entertainment, creators of the wildly popular red birds video games.

The 4,485-square-foot indoor attraction has six interactive stations that bring to life characters from the games. Visitors can shoot space pigs with a slingshot, walk through a mirrored labyrinth or create their own digital Angry Bird. Players also can compete in the Red Planet laser challenge, ducking over and under light beams in search of golden eggs. Activities cater to children ages 6 to 14 but are suitable for most ages.

Also new is the Visitor Complex entrance area, with self-service kiosks, a will-call station and gift shop, which doesn't require park admission. Central to the expanded plaza is a 75-foot-long fountain honoring the late President John F. Kennedy, the space center's namesake.

For history and space buffs, the center recently added a Mega Tour of the space shuttle launch pad area and vehicle assembly building. The tours give a detailed look at how the shuttles were built and transported by "crawler'' to the launch pad. The tours take over two hours and are packed with information rather than thrills, meaning young kids might get antsy. Tickets are $40 for adults and $30 for children.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110.

Comments

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballTulsa at Temple6 p.m.ESPNewsVillanova at Georgetown6:30 p.m.FS1Dayton at St. Joseph’s6:30 p.m.CBSSNArkansas at Florida7 p.m.ESPN2; 1250-AMSMU at Wichita State7 p.m.ESPNUAuburn at Alabama7 p.m.SECUSF at East Carolina7 p.m.820-AM...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lou Gramm, Mick Jones join Billy Joel on stage for Foreigner tunes

Lou Gramm, Mick Jones join Billy Joel on stage for Foreigner tunes

Billy Joel's been knockin' 'em dead at his regular Madison Square Garden shows these days. And staying home in NYC also gives the Piano Man a chance to dazzle his audience with surprise guests. For the Jan. 11 show, it was Lou Gramm and Mick Jon...
Published: 01/16/18
Why ‘Phantom Thread’ is a bad fit as Daniel Day-Lewis’ final movie

Why ‘Phantom Thread’ is a bad fit as Daniel Day-Lewis’ final movie

BY STEVE PERSALLTimes Movie CriticPaul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is passionless window-shop cinema, each static tableau lovingly arranged for display and easy dusting. Its centerpiece is a mannequin, albeit played by Daniel Day-Lewis, whose gi...
Published: 01/16/18
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. We’re talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more — the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18
Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and that’s good

Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and that’s good

TAMPASeldom have I paid such close attention to a restaurant closure, remodeling and reopening. Byblos Cafe began a major renovation last year, keeping the restaurant open as long as possible during the summer with some nifty temporary walls to shiel...
Published: 01/16/18
Review: Truth and lies are the focus of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Review: Truth and lies are the focus of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Maybe Jack Nicholson was wrong. We can handle the truth.The #MeToo movement is giving a microphone to once unheard voices. Political lies are constantly challenged. At the Golden Globes, Oprah’s rousing speech asserted "the most powerful tool is spea...
Published: 01/16/18
Coming-of-age love story ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a rare treasure

Coming-of-age love story ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a rare treasure

Another young man’s summer he’ll never forget is the core of Call Me By Your Name, a movie to likewise treasure. Luca Guadagnino’s coming out-of-age drama is a rare exception to familiar romantic rules.This film’s same-sex summer fling shared by a te...
Published: 01/16/18

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballWisconsin at Purdue7 p.m.ESPNLouisville at Notre Dame7 p.m.ESPN2Georgia at LSU7 p.m.ESPNUVanderbilt at Mississippi State7 p.m.SECClemson at North Carolina7 p.m.Fox SunCincinnati at UCF7 p.m.CBSSNWomen: Michigan at Ohio State7 p...
Published: 01/15/18
Was Jon Bon Jovi ever really lonely? Maybe back in ’84

Was Jon Bon Jovi ever really lonely? Maybe back in ’84

Our '80s historian Kevin Wuench says congratulations to Bon Jovi on getting into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and provides this history lesson:Do we pander to Bon Jovi fans to get more Lost and Found clicks on the website? Surely not, as ...
Published: 01/15/18