When the permanent home for the recently retired Space Shuttle Atlantis is built at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, it will have a decidedly Buffalo flavor.
Birdair Inc., the Amherst-based firm, has been hired to design and build a pair of fabric canopies that will protect the space shuttle and house some of the exhibition space. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is run and managed by Buffalo's Delaware North Cos. Inc.
Expected to open in 2013, the new space center attraction will also enable visitors to undergo a simulated shuttle launch, including a surrounding orbital view of the Earth as part of the new experience at the complex.
Ironically, the fiberglass membrane fabric that Birdair is using for the canopies was first developed by NASA in the late 1960s as part of the material in the Apollo astronauts space suits. Birdair has used the fabric on more than 1,300 structures it has designed and built.
"Birdair utilizes NASA technology on a daily basis in tensile architecture structures and we are excited to be a part of this project as it has come full circle," says Jeff Sellers, Birdair director of pre-construction services.
Delaware North secured the rights to having the Atlantis serve as a Kennedy Space Center attraction last year.