Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center: photos from opening night

Space educator Sawyer "@thenasaman" Rosenstein, 19, might also be described as a space fan. His enthusiasm for space flight was captured in this Boing Boing feature, and shines weekly in his "Talking Space" podcast. He traveled to Florida this weekend for the opening of the new permanent exhibit of Shuttle Atlantis at KSC, and shares these photos with us back home. All images in this post are Sawyer's so ask before you re-use them. —Xeni Jardin.

The Atlantis exhibit: 90,000 square feet, $100 million, and one precious piece of American space history. Give that to any organization and they'll come up with something pretty cool. Give it to Delaware North, the company that runs the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex, and you get one of the most impressive displays I've ever seen.

Atlantis is displayed with quotes from the people who worked on her. There are more than 60 interactive exhibits. The orbiter steals the show. These pictures do not do the experience justice, but I hope it'll give you, Boing Boing readers, a glimpse into what was done at Kennedy. And I hope it inspires you to go and see it yourself.

A view from underneath the model external tank and solid rocket boosters. They are impressive in size and visible for miles.

Space history is a beautiful thing.

The entryway to the newly build Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, which presents a shuttle stack, or an external tank model as well as two model solid rocket boosters, which you walk underneath to enter the building.

After viewing a film, this is the first view you see when entering the actual exhibit area.

A walkway around the exhibit allows you unique and up-close views of the orbiter. So close, in fact, that you can see all of the heat shield tiles and thermal blanket.

The wing of Atlantis as viewed from the exhibit. The NASA logo, which remains proudly displayed throughout the Kennedy Space Center, is highlighted throughout the exhibit, showing NASA's major achievement through the shuttle era.

A view looking from the rear of Atlantis. A majority of the items on Atlantis, from tiles to parts of the payload bay, are original pieces, unchanged for display.

One unique feature of the exhibit is the lighting, which constantly changes, highlighting different aspects of the orbiter, according to one of the architects.

One of the pieces keeping Atlantis at a 43.21 degree angle, giving it the appearance of being in flight.

It was a struggle getting some parts of the exhibit setup, including opening the payload bay doors. They were not designed to be opened in 1G (one gravity). There was a forceful directive from Kennedy Space Center Director and former astronaut Bob Cabana to not mess it up. They didn't.

The display includes more space shuttle history, such as the astrovan which took astronauts to (and in the case of a scrub from) the launch pad.

Continuing with the artifacts, the "beanie cap" was key in fueling the shuttle's external tank with 500,000 gallons of liquid fuel. You can now walk underneath it and see what's in there.

Photos: Sawyer Rostenstein.