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'Godspeed Atlantis' as last space shuttle makes final journey

November 02, 2012|By Richard Simon

WASHINGTON--The last of the retired space shuttles is headed for its final landing.

Atlantis was making its 9.8-mile journey Friday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to its permanent new home at the nearby visitors complex.

"Godspeed Atlantis, on your next mission of inspiration and motivation,’’ NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.

VIDEO: Timelapse journey of Endeavour

"It's now NASA’s honor to permanently house this magnificent spacecraft right here where she rose to the skies 33 times carrying 156 men and women,’’ said Bolden, a former astronaut who flew on Atlantis. "She’s truly a testament to American ingenuity.’’ 

"Atlantis’ move comes after Endeavour’s celebrated -– and highly complicated –- 12-mile trek last month from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Discovery is on display at the National Air and Space Museum annex in northern Virginia. The test shuttle Enterprise is at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. 

FULL COVERAGE: Space shuttle Endeavour

Atlantis was traveling atop a 76-wheel apparatus to the visitor complex, where it will be put on display in a $100-million hall due to open in July.

While less complicated than Endeavour’s transit, the Atlantis move involves moving the craft -- with its 78-foot wingspan and a tail that reaches more than five stories-- through spots with no more than six inches of clearance.

The spacecraft will be covered with about 16,000 square feet of shrink wrap to protect it while workers finish the exhibit hall. Plans calls for displaying Atlantis on a 43-degree angle with its payload doors open.

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richard.simon@latimes.com

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