Shuttle Atlantis wrapped in protective covering

The space shuttle Atlantis has been encased in a protective plastic, a wrap that will keep the spacecraft dust-free while construction crews finish building the exhibit hall to showcase her to the public.

Atlantis arrived at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Nov. 2, rolling into the $100 million attraction that will be finished and opened to the world next July.

Since reaching the retirement home, Atlantis was offloaded from the 76-wheel motorized transporter and secured to beams that will be used for lifting the 152,700-pound craft into its display configuration.

Workers this week covered the shuttle with the same type of wrapping you might see around boats being shipped down the highway. It will keep the dust and debris from coming in contact with the priceless artifact in the construction zone.

The final wall of the building, left unassembled in order to get the massive orbiter inside, will be finished in the coming weeks. The facility should have the air conditioning system established in early December.

In the next few days, the crane and rigging company hired by KSCVC will finish the delicate job of raising Atlantis 36 feet off the ground and tilting the orbiter 43.21 degrees to the port side, the final display orientation to mimic the shuttle still flying in space.

Next spring, the plastic will be removed in preparation for opening Atlantis' payload bay doors.

See our coverage of Atlantis' delivery.

Photo credit: Michael R. Brown

This pit will anchor one of the solid rocket boosters in the outside exhibit of a full scale external tank and attached SRBs that guests will walk under to enter the Atlantis hall.

Expedition 29 Patch
Space models