October 27th, 2011
02:16 PM ET

Special space access

One of the largest buildings in the world is opening its doors to the public, and those lucky enough to enter may see a space shuttle orbiter being prepared for retirement.

Starting next month, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida will be offering a new tour called KSC Up-Close that will include a visit inside the Vehicle Assembly Building.

"This is a very special and unique opportunity," says John Stine, KSC Visitor Complex director of sales and marketing. "(The VAB) has been closed for over 30 years."

Open only to NASA employees and a select few, this 525-foot-tall building was originally built as the assembly location for Apollo/Saturn vehicles. During the space shuttle program it was the location where the shuttle orbiter was mated to the external tank and solid rocket boosters.

"With the end of the shuttle program and as a prelude to the next phase of manned space flight, we have the opportunity to gain access to the building for a very limited period of time," says Stine.

Stine makes no promises that guests will see an orbiter, but he says that space shuttle Endeavour will be in the VAB indefinitely. "It's a great bonus to come in, not only to be in awe of the inside of this facility," he says, "but then seeing Endeavour being prepared for its trip out West."

Endeavour will eventually be moved to the California Science Museum in Los Angeles, where it will be on display. Although Stine doesn't think Endeavour will be shipped out any time soon, he does recommend that if you plan on taking the tour, do not delay - tickets are limited.

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