Plastic cover removed from shuttle Atlantis at KSC visitor complex

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —

Crews started the tedious process of removing the protective plastic from the shuttle Atlantis on Thursday, preparing it for its new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Workers had to use lifts to unwrap the plastic sheeting from the shuttle that is raised 30 feet off the ground.

Atlantis has been enclosed in 16,000-feet of shrink wrap since last year to protect it during the construction of its new $100 million home at the visitor complex.

"It's really a good day for us, because she's been in a little bit of a cocoon now for about four months," said Tim Macy, director of project development and construction.

The 90,000-square-foot attraction will give visitors a 360-degree, multilevel view of Atlantis.

The three other retired shuttles were sent to museums in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

Atlantis' final mission was the last flight of the entire shuttle program in July 2011.

The KSC exhibit opens to the public on June 29.