The construction of the Orbiter Atlantis began on March 3, 1980. On April 9, 1985, Atlantis arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and prepared for its maiden voyage over the next seven months.
Atlantis was completed in just about half the time in man-hours spent on Columbia and this was due to lessons learned regarding the construction testing of orbiters Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger.
Atlantis weighs at about 151,315 pounds, nearly 3.5 tons lighter than Columbia.
On October 3, 1985, Atlantis launched its first space flight, STS-51-J, with a classified payload for the U.S. Deprtment of Defense. Atlantis went on to carry four more DOD payloads on its later mission. The mission is commanded by Navy Capt. Brent Jett, a veteran of three previous spaceflights. Navy Capt. Chris Ferguson, a first-time flyer, joined Jett who will serve as the mission's pilot. Joe Tanner, crewmate of Jett's on the STS-97 mission, will be leading the two teams of spacewalkers in his fourth spaceflight.
NASA has delayed the launch of space shuttle Atlantis that was supposedly scheduled on September 7, 2006 due to a fuel cell anomaly.
This beautifully detailed 1/200 scale model is made from handcarved mahogany and handpainted.