In Brief

Seeing Space Shuttle Atlantis Fills Reporter with Inspiration ... and Regret

NASA's space shuttle Atlantis is on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
"Space Shuttle Atlantis" at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida is designed to give guests a nearly 360-degree view of the retired orbiter. (Image credit: Cooper via

Seeing Atlantis on public display is both exhilarating and sad. The retired space shuttle orbiter officially went on view Saturday (June 29) at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as part of a new $100 million exhibition.

The mighty spaceship, which traveled to space and back 33 times over 26 years, is an awe-inspiring sight, especially when you're standing just feet away. The new exhibition displays space shuttle Atlantis as if she were in flight soaring over Earth, tilted at an angle with cargo bay doors open and robotic arm extended. The effect made me feel almost as if I was in space too.

The sight of Atlantis permanently installed in her new home was bittersweet, though, because the reality truly sunk in that her flying days are over. Some say the shuttles still had life left in them, and could have flown for many more years. Whether or not retiring them was the right thing to do, it's definitely a completely done deal now.

Coming face to face with this incredible machine, I was struck by Atlantis' sheer size, grace and complexity. The sight made me proud of what our country accomplished, appreciative of all the astronauts and workers that made the shuttle program possible, and sad that, like all good things, it came to an end.

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Clara Moskowitz
Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz is a science and space writer who joined the team in 2008 and served as Assistant Managing Editor from 2011 to 2013. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She covers everything from astronomy to human spaceflight and once aced a NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training program for space missions. Clara is currently Associate Editor of Scientific American. To see her latest project is, follow Clara on Twitter.