A few weeks back, I stopped in at the Smithsonian’s hangar outside Dulles airport to visit the Space Shuttle Discovery in her new digs. It was pretty impressive, and I wanted to check out how the other shuttles were fairing in their retirement. So, while in the Orlando area and with a little time to kill, I stopped over at the Kennedy Space Center to check out their new exhibit showcasing the shuttle Atlantis.
With places like Disneyland and Universal Studios’ theme park in the area, Kennedy Space Center has had to follow suit and make their facility more theme park esque in order to compete. In that light the Atlantis exhibit makes perfect sense, since the experience is very similar to a ride at any of the local theme parks. The entry hall into the building is laid out in a similar fashion to the rides at Disneyland, with art on the walls to keep you busy and a winding corridor that deposits you at a set of doors. Inside, two separate theaters show you a short film dramatically detailing the story of how the shuttle’s design came to be, complete with overly-emotive musical score. Then, when the screen lifts and you walk inside, the shuttle is displayed in such a way that it looks as if it were flying through space.
The shuttle is configured as if it were about to dock with the International Space Station, complete with the docking port. Which, by the way, was one of the most interesting bits of tech on display.
I get the feeling that this design heavily influenced the way that the docking ports look in Kerbal Space Program.