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Space Coast will get to Keep Final Shuttle

5:31 PM, Jul 5, 2011   |    comments
Space suit worn by Alan Shepard on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
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MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. -- Former shuttle astronaut Jon McBride came out of retirement to run the education program at Kennedy Space Visitors Center.

"I may be retired, but my heart and soul are still in the space program, have been since 1978," he said.

Jon McBride was part of the first class of shuttle pilots from 1978, one of 35 chosen for the program out of 10,000 applicants.

His lone mission in space was flying the shuttle Challenger in 1984, two years before the horrifying explosion that killed all aboard.

But just because a chapter of NASA's history is wrapping up, it's not time to abandon the Space Coast, McBride said. "This is really the gem of the Space Coast, right here at the visitors center."

Hundreds of thousands will pack the area to see the launch, and he said the exhibits at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex are something every space nut should see.

Among the other space artifacts and the Astronaut Hall of Fame, a part of shuttle history will soon be at the center. When Atlantis returns, the shuttle will be housed and displayed here.

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