Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-104) is one of the fleet of space shuttles belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The fourth orbiter to become operational at Kennedy Space Center, it was named after the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966. The two-masted, 460-ton ketch was the first US vessel to be used for oceanographic research. The spaceship Atlantis has carried on the spirit of the sailing vessel with several important voyages of its own.
Atlantis benefitted from lessons learned in the construction and testing of Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger. At rollout, its weight was 6,974 pounds lighter than Columbia. It was also completed with 49.5 percent fewer man hours compared to Columbia. Much of this decrease can be attributed to the greater use of thermal protection blankets on the upper orbiter body instead of tiles. From November 1997 to July 1999, Atlantis underwent 165 modifications, including a drag chute, new plumbing lines, over 800 new heat protection tiles and blankets, and new insulation for the main landing gear doors.
Atlantis made its first flight in October 1985, conducting classified military activities. In 1989, it deployed two planetary probes, Magellan and Galileo, and in 1991, it deployed the Arthur Holley Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Beginning in 1995, Atlantis made seven straight flights to the Russian space station Mir. In October 2002, after a four-year hiatus, the space shuttle and its six-person crew completed the eleven-day STS-115 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that involved three space walks. On June 8, 2007, Atlantis launched on its longest-ever mission, STS-117, which lasted almost 14 days. The spaceship is scheduled to be retired in 2011 after it completes STS-135.
This beautifully detailed 1/100 scale model is made from handcarved mahogany and handpainted.