Atlantis Readies for Relocation Under Del. North Watch

October 31, 2012 Updated Oct 31, 2012 at 6:51 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

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October 31, 2012 Updated Oct 31, 2012 at 6:51 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Delaware North Cos. is preparing for the biggest and most complex move in its history.

And, it has nothing to do with its corporate headquarters in downtown Buffalo.

Rather, crews from Delaware North Cos. Parks & Resorts are working closely with officials from the Kennedy Space Center as the recently-retired Space Shuttle Atlantis moves into its new home as the anchor for a new display in the Space Florida's Exploration Park. The move is set for Nov. 2.

"The final trip of Atlantis will be the very last time anyone is going to see a space shuttle in motion or out in the open, making it a truly unique and momentous viewing opportunity," said Bill Moore, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex chief operating officer.

Delaware North Cos. Parks & Resorts operates the visitor complex for NASA.

Last year, the Kennedy Space Center was named one of three sites to permanently house one of the retired space shuttles. Delaware North has created a new attraction at Kennedy Space Center that's built around Atlantis. The $100 million center is expected to open next July.

To make the 9.8 mile move from the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building to the new display, NASA and Delaware North officials spent nearly 18 months charting the path and logistics. Among the issues that had to be addressed was the temporary removal of 120 light poles, 23 traffic signals, 56 traffic signs and one high-voltage power line.

The work is being performed by subcontractors hired by Delaware North.

Delaware North is planning a day-long celebration to mark the move, the bulk of which, some 70 percent, takes place in restricted areas of Kennedy Space Center. The move will take 11 hours to complete, with at least one private event held along its path for NASA and Kennedy Space Center employees.

The trip will be made on a 76-wheel, 106-foot long Orbiter Transport System.

"Atlantis is a spacecraft that has flown 33 missions into space, logged more than 125 million miles and it was the last orbiter in space and the last to touch down at Kennedy Space Center," Moore said.

"Seeing the orbiter up close will be an emotional experience."

Special viewing packages are available through the Kennedy Space Center.

Moore expects at least 8,000 people to come to the space center to watch the move.

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