The $100 million home of the space shuttle Atlantis, which opened last year, has put Florida's Kennedy Space Center back on the tourism maps. Without giving too much away, the way in which the orbiter is revealed to arriving guests is perhaps the most spine-tingling moment in all of Orlando, a city known for goosebumps. Hanging 26 feet off the ground at an angle of 43.21 degrees (like the numbers in a launch countdown), she's still covered with space dust, and she now tips a wing at everyone who comes to learn about her on the many interactive displays that surround her.
The shuttle by itself would be enough reason to revisit Cape Canaveral. But this summer, without fanfare, the Kennedy Space Center opened a equally moving exhibition.
The commemorative "Forever Remembered" section, quietly added in June, adds to the unmissable exhibition. Alongside favorite mementos provided by 11 of the 14 families of their crew members, visitors now find a section of the hull of the Challenger, lost in 1986, and a slab of cockpit windows of the Columbia (2003), still encrusted with grass and mud from where it fell to Earth.
The current director of KSC, himself a former space shuttle crew member, elected not to accompany the artifacts with filmed segments of the incidents that created them. The emblematic sections were recovered from the underground vault in which NASA has kept all such recovered remnants, many of which the public had no idea existed.
CBS This Morning visited the new permanent exhibition: