CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) – The space shuttle Atlantis is one step closer to the end of its final journey.
On Wednesday, officials with the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and NASA broke ground on a site which will become the retired shuttle’s final home.
Delaware North Parks & Resorts, which runs the Kennedy visitor complex for NASA, used an industrial-size digger to unveil a huge picture of the planned exhibit hall. The six-story structure will feature two curved “wings” in orange and gold colors, representing the intense heat of re-entry.
Atlantis will be displayed as if flying in orbit, with the cargo bay doors open and the robot arm extended.
The $100 million exhibit is scheduled to open next summer.
The astronaut who commanded Atlantis’ final spaceflight, Christopher Ferguson, told the more than 100 guests that Atlantis will serve as “a reminder of the limitless potential” of Americans and also inspire children, some of whom will become future space travelers.
Ferguson, who now works for Boeing on new space vehicles, made note of the effort to preserve the past while working toward the future.
“I’d like you all to stay tuned as we turn to the next chapter of the journey that will never end,” said Ferguson.
Shuttle Discovery will actually be the first to ship out to museums. In April, it will head to the National Air and Space Museum’s display hangar outside Washington. Shuttle Endeavour will travel to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in the second half of the year.
(TM and © Copyright 20121 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)