Kennedy Space Center — Part 2 of 2

Atlantis Space Shuttle on display at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida

As we continue our virtual space voyage with Part 2, please join me for a look inside the expansive Atlantis Space Shuttle building, located in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center. Part 1 can be viewed here.


All 135 Space Shuttle missions were launched from the U.S. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) between 1981 and 2011. These were crewed spacecraft that launched into space, orbited Earth, and returned to Earth. Each Space Shuttle flight performed a specified space mission, and most have returned to space numerous times. There were 133 successes and 2 failures.


NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis was first launched in 1985 and completed its final space mission in 2011. In all, it orbited the Earth 4,848 times.


The building where the Atlantis now lives is 64,000 square footΒ  (5,900 m2) and showcases the spacecraft on three different levels. It opened in 2013.

Atlantis from underneath


The spacecraft is raised 30 feet (9 m) off the ground and rotated 43 degrees, displayed as if it were in space. The many burn marks and marrings are visual proof of its many orbits into space.


Close-up of underside


It has over 2.5 million parts.


Visitors can see Atlantis’ opened payload bay doors and the robotic arm.

Open payload door


Atlantis’ robotic arm

This space shuttle charged in and out of space for 26 years, completing 33 missions. It transported 207 astronauts, flew 126 million miles, and spent 307 days in space.


It has three types of engines and an impressive array of rocket thrusters.

Atlantis’ rocket thrusters

Here is a photo of Atlantis leaving Earth. For the initial thrust into orbit, it is attached to an external fuel tank (orange) and twin solid rocket boosters (white).

Atlantis leaving Earth. Courtesy Wikipedia.

This is Atlantis as it transits the sun (small black dot near center of photo).

Courtesy Wikipedia

For more in-flight photos of the Atlantis, click on Space Shuttle Atlantis Wikipedia.


Atlantis Logo


The Atlantis building, one of many at the KSC, has over 60 interactive exhibits. In addition to Atlantis, which dominates, there is a full-size replica of the Hubble Space Telescope, the original still being in space.


There are displays highlighting the mission of each of the space shuttles. Most of them did work on the International Space Station and/or the Hubble Telescope.

Display of the Discovery Shuttle’s Mission


This is a walkway highlighting each of the 33 missions of Atlantis.



There are also many displays of the International Space Station (ISS), including an active countdown of how long it has been in space (over 20 years).

Countdown of the ISS days in orbit

Film delineating each part of the ISS


Kids can climb in tunnels that lead to spacecraft; many people were stimulated by several different simulators. The space toilet display was also popular.

Space Shuttle Toilet

There were other space shuttles in the American space program. Out of the five fully functional orbiters, three remain on display, open to the public. Aside from Atlantis, the other two are: Discovery in Washington D.C. and Endeavour in Los Angeles.


The Atlantis performed NASA’s last Space Shuttle mission.


Space Shuttle program Wikipedia


Thanks for launching into space with us.


Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander unless otherwise specified.

Dear friends, I am taking a break for the rest of December,Β  will resume posting in January. Wishing you happy holidays, and many thanks for another sweet and adventurous year together.

Astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Stn, 2016


65 thoughts on “Kennedy Space Center — Part 2 of 2

  1. Thank you for sharing more on the KSC, Jet. I am still in awe that we have went into space and returned in these shuttles. With my son wanting to be an astronaut at graduation of high school and college, I don’t know if I could have handled it if he had, even though we fueled his passion. This was after the 1986 loss of Challenger before our eyes. I’m happy he’s still in the field working as an aerospace engineer and grounded. πŸ™‚

    • I enjoyed hearing about your son’s ambitions and realized career, Donna. That loss of the Challenger and how it blew up in front of us was devastating for the whole nation, but oh how utterly tragic for the loved ones close to these superheroes. We’ve had such a beautiful full moon this week, and as I gaze on it, I, too, am in awe of the incredible accomplishments that have been made. Many thanks for your lovely visit and comment.

    • You summed it up well, Bill. It was indeed magical, powerful and mystical to be at the KSC, absorbing all the technology and advancement that so many humans have dedicated their lives to. It was great fun to share that day with you and Nan.

  2. Happy holidays to you and Athena! We send very best wishes to you both now and for the year ahead. Fingers crossed we may meet in 2020.
    Now I am very fascinated by this display of space shuttles. I had no idea there were 135 missions. The two unsuccessful ones certainly stick in my mind predominantly. I suppose it is human nature.

    • Yes, the two unsuccessful missions stick in many of our heads. But those other shuttles were numerous, and accomplished much. I’m really so very glad you enjoyed the series, Sue, thanks so much for your comment. Will look into some options for January and email you soon. Meanwhile, have a happy holiday season.

  3. So interesting – and, again, I learned much from reading your post. Thank you for sharing your travels, insights and research with us this year, Jet, on so many fascinating and edifying topics! Looking forward to another year with you!

    • Dear Nan, it has been a joy to share a few of the marvels of the world with you, and so rewarding to receive your kind and encouraging comments and consistent visits. My love and thanks to you, it means a lot to me.

  4. It’s amazing the changes that have happened in one lifetime. In my parents’ lifespan, they saw transportation go from horse and buggy to man on the moon. Just amazing. Your post brings all that home to us to remind us not to take these achievements for granted – that someone had to invent these endeavors and make them work out right. The US space program deserves a lot of praise.

    • I, too, find it fascinating what each human generation invents and manifests, and in the transportation industry it is astounding. The anniversary of the Wright Brothers is this week, and it was only 116 years ago that they were figuring out ways to get an airplane into the sky. I’m with you,,,,,US space program deserves a lot of praise. Thanks so much, Anneli.

  5. i love Athena’s photo of the thrusters – good composition and captures the feeling of standing beneath them. The space toilet looks like it might suck you out into outer space! None for me thanks! Have a great holiday, vacay from blogging!

    • That photo of the shuttle’s thrusters is one of my favorite, too, Jan. The men it in it give perspective to the size of the thrusters. Thanks so much for your visit today, and for all the many visits and comments and participation over the past years. Looking forward to seeing you in 2020, and in the meantime, have a pleasant holiday season.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the Atlantis space shuttle post series, Janet. Thanks so much for your visits and comments throughout the year — my best to you for a happy holiday season.

  6. Cosmic! Really enjoyed this, and I’d love to visit and see the shuttle up close – thrilling stuff! The ISS space toilet used to get the most questions from students back when I taught units about space exploration. The things they’d ask, when they already had a pretty good idea of the answer…
    Thanks, Jet, and we hope you both enjoy your down time through the rest of the holiday season!

    • I smiled at your comment, pc, hearing many questions about the toilet when you were teaching the space exploration units. The exhibit had many diagrams and many people taking pictures. I agree with you, being up close to the shuttle was indeed thrilling stuff. If you’re ever out on the east coast, you and Mrs. PC would indeed enjoy the Kennedy Space Center. My very best to you both for a happy holiday.

  7. I enjoyed being able to visit the Space Center virtually via your blog. It’s such a fascinating place. Have a wonderful holiday season. I look forward to your return in January.

    • Thanks so much for dropping by, Sheryl, and I’m glad you enjoyed Kennedy Space Center post. Have a wonderful holiday, you are no doubt baking many wonderful goodies. Cheers!

  8. Thank you Jet, you have given so much knowledge and inspiring photos.
    Following the posts about the hard work behind and our striving to reach moon is amazing. I thought of it last night whilst watching a full moon and feeling the mystique.

    Have a wonderful Christmas break


    • How wonderful to hear, Miriam, that my space center posts had you thinking about the space exploration as you watched the full moon. I did the same thing. Thanks so much, and have a pleasant holiday season.

    • Yes, Andrea, it was amazing to see the Atlantis, stand next to it, knowing it’s spent many years and over 4,800 orbits buzzing the galaxies. Thanks so much for your frequent visits here, lovely words — they have been very much appreciated. I look forward to sharing more words with you in the new year.

  9. I’m really glad you enjoyed the space center post series, Frank. It was a great honor to share the amazement of the Kennedy Space Center and all the people and programs over the decades. Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging comments and visits over this past year, and for sharing your marvelous photos. I look forward to more in the new year. Merry Christmas to you!

  10. Those shuttles are impressive pieces of technology. I had a chance to see the Endeavour at the California Science Center in LA last year. It’s kind of sobering, sharing space with a vehicle that’s spent a lot of time in Space, and thinking of how big the big picture really is.

    • Thanks so much, ACI. I’m looking forward to sharing more adventures next year, and to hanging out at your blog, seeing what you’re up to every week. Best wishes to you, my friend.

  11. I love this kind of stuff….can’t wait to tour the space center at some point, but in the mean time this prompts me to visit the Endeavor here in LA. I keep forgetting it’s here…it came in either while we were living in San Diego or Arizona….Great post!!!

  12. Yes, it was really big deal getting Endeavour into the LA site, sounded like quite a choreographical achievement. It came to LA in Oct. 2012. We were down in LA in Nov. 2014 and attempted to visit the exhibit, but it was filled up to capacity and we were unable to get in. Maybe by now there’s less of a crowd. I hope you do get to visit it, Kirt. I know you will enjoy it. Thank you for your many visits here in 2019, and best wishes to you in 2020. Happy holidays to you.

  13. What fun! Seeing all that scientific stuff. It blows my mind that anyone would dare to have him/herself shot out into space in what might become a big fiery explosion. Then again, one would probably be remembered. πŸ˜€ Hard to believe it’s almost Solstice once again… that moment when the sun shows up a bit longer. Wishing you and Athena Seasons Greetings and best wishes for a far better 2020.

    • Dear Gunta, I agree, those are some brave men and women who shoot out into space. I’m also, like you, happy to see the solstice coming around, already making our days a little less dark. Athena and I wish you a happy solstice, winter, and holiday season. My many thanks for all your visits in 2019, as well as your thought-provoking and beautiful posts on your blog. Looking forward to more in 2020.

  14. We were in Titusville when Atlantis took its last flight. It was exciting and sad at the same time. Couldn’t hold back the tears as it rose to the sky and disappeared into space. Great post!

    • It’s great to hear you’ve had the thrill of witnessing a launch, Kelly. Although I’ve never had the opportunity, my sister has described it to me, said the whole earth moves beneath your feet. Thanks so much for your wonderful comment and visit.

  15. I thought I’d commented on this post, Jet. 😯 Wonderful set of photos and info. I’m with Gunta on the bravery/boldness of the men and women who volunteer to be shot off into space. Happy New Year wishes to you and Athena. πŸ™‚

    • I agree, Sylvia, the courage it takes to leave this earth with the possibility of no return, is impressive and inspiring. Thanks so much for your visit and comment, and a happy new year to you, too.

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