Dorri Partain 
Assistant Editor 

Parked in a Northeast-area storage lot, a large, tarp-covered item has drawn some questions to staff here at The Northeast News.

Quite noticeable is that the item is sporting three jet nozzles- much like one of NASA’s Space Shuttles, begging the questions: ‘Is that a real shuttle, like one that used to orbit the Earth?’ and ‘How did that get here?’.

Those were the questions I had after I noticed “the landing” of this object back in December and in full Remember This-mode, I set to work to satiate my own curiosity.

In determining what exactly is partially hidden under a tarp, I started by researching where all the remaining shuttles are located and displayed in museums across the country. Next, I researched details regarding the size of an actual shuttle, which is 122.75 feet or the length of 3 school buses. That fact helped me determine the mystery item was a half-scale model.

Using various combinations of search words, I found my answer via an old website. Built in 1997 by a company in Hutchinson, Kansas that specializes in replicas of spacecraft for museum displays, this half-scale (63 ft.) model of Space Shuttle Atlantis was marketed as the “World’s only mobile Space Shuttle”, available for fairs and other public and private events. The current owner purchased the model in 2008 and attempted to market the shuttle as a portable space lab and educational exhibit named the Atlantis Dream Mission, but the idea never “took off”.

Following a “mission” to Branson for a few years, the Atlantis “flew back” to Kansas City, but has been in storage in various lots, awaiting its next journey. Until then, it’s parked in full view on Ewing Avenue, just south of VFW Post 9997.

The actual Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched October 3, 1985 and flew 33 missions before its final mission landed it on July 8, 2011. Permanently on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Atlantis has been retrofitted to contain 60 interactive and immersive exhibits.