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Spaceflight Now | STS-135 | Atlantis fitted with engine replicas for museum

June 26, 2012
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Already having been powered off for the final time, the shells of rocket pods installed on her tail and nose and key components removed for future use, technicians Tuesday finished inserting replica main engines on space shuttle orbiter Atlantis for permanent display at Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex.

Using old-generation nozzles to give a realistic-looking appearance, the replica engines do not include the internal turbopumps, controllers or other parts that an actual shuttle powerplant featured. NASA is keeping its allotment of current-generation engines in protective storage to power the future Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket.

Installation began Monday when the first engine was mounted to Atlantis’ center-engine position. The lower-left engine was installed early Tuesday, then after a break for a passing rain shower, the third engine was hauled from the prep shop over to Orbiter Processing Facility bay 1 for the shuttle’s lower-right position.

Atlantis will be rolled out of the hangar Friday morning, weather permitting, and moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building for storage.

The orbiter is scheduled for delivery to KSC’s museum this fall where a new display exhibit is being constructed to give the public an up-close look at the retired spaceplane with her payload bay doors open as if orbiting the planet. The facility opens next July, around the second anniversary of the final space shuttle mission.

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