Atlantis ready to be moved to KSC visitor's complex

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —

The space shuttle Atlantis is ready to be moved from its hangar at the Kennedy Space Center to its new display at the visitor's complex in Cape Canaveral.

Bear Reick, who has worked on the shuttle fleet for the past quarter of a century, said he can see it's different.

"They are all my babies. You know, I've been doing this for a long time. It's hard to get it out of your blood. I'll never get it out of my blood," said Reick.

Components NASA needs or plans to use for future space missions have been removed from Atlantis.

"This is the hatch to the payload bay. The airlock, which would normally be there, has been removed by NASA, and so a mock-up has been put in its place," he said.

At the visitor's complex, Atlantis will be displayed as if in orbit, with payload bay doors open and orbiting at a 45-degree angle.

Engineers had to be certain the shuttle could be supported in that position without damaging the national treasure.

"They have looked out 100 years. 'How does that affect the structure of the vehicle if we hold it in this position for 100 years?'" Reick asked.

Reick said he hates to see the shuttle go and has recently received a layoff notice, but he said once it's in the visitors complex, he will get to share his work with more people, including his grandchildren.

"Instead of showing them pictures, I can actually show them, 'Look, I did this, I did that,'" he said.

The shuttle will be rolled over to the visitor complex on Nov. 2.

Organizers said it will take several hours, and the shuttle will be towed in a roundabout way down a back road to get to the visitor complex to avoid a security gate between its hangar and its new home.