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A space shuttle's final mission: Atlantis opens to the public (+video)

The much-anticipated Atlantis exhibit - showcasing the last space shuttle to make a mission - will open at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Saturday.

Here's a quick look into the current state of the new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit opening at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in June 2013.
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Space shuttle Atlantis will begin one last mission on Saturday – and this is one on which we can join her.

The Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, will open to the public on Saturday, after a Friday event that boasts some 50 astronauts on the guest list.

Some 60 displays and interactive simulators in the new, much-heralded exhibit will tell the story of the entire NASA shuttle program, which was closed in 2011. Those shuttles – beginning with the April 1981 launch of shuttle Columbia and continuing with the journeys of shuttles Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour – were the space ambassadors on which Americans pinned their celestial dreams for some three decades.

And so, in the center of it all, is the space shuttle Atlantis.

“Although the multimillion-dollar interactive exhibit encompasses much, much more than the display of Atlantis, there is no denying, she is truly the star of the show,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the visitor complex. “We know that this majestic beauty, which safely ferried men and women to space and back on 33 successful missions, is the real reason that our guests will travel thousands of miles … to see her in all her glory."

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