Shuttle Atlantis moved into VAB for last time

Updated:

Loading

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Space shuttle Atlantis was moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building in Cape Canaveral for the last time Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center.

Atlantis will undergo final preparations inside the VAB before being put on display in Brevard County.

The shuttle must be positioned just right inside the building so that United Space Alliance workers can put the finishing touches on the transport system and fasten mechanisms that will allow Florida's only remaining shuttle to be suspended in the air as if flying again.

NASA employee Stephanie Stilson said it was an emotional day.

"We all knew this day was going to get here eventually, but I don't think any of us knew the effect until it actually got here. There was a somber mood in the pretest briefing, some tears. People were doing their best to keep their composure," Stilson said.

Atlantis, the last of the shuttles, made a short 200-yard journey Wednesday down a path shuttles have traveled for three decades, flanked by dozens of employees.

It will sit inside the VAB for the next two weeks and then continue on a 10-mile journey to its new home inside a $100 million superhangar in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

"There's a few little white spots -- tile that was hit during the mission. It has not been touched. It was left exactly like it was after its last flight," said Buddy McKenzie of the United Space Alliance.

Atlantis even got one last weather delay -- the move was postponed for about 45 minutes because of rain and possible lightning.