HOUSTON — The NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) is preparing Space Shuttle Explorer, a replica that for years greeted visitors to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to serve as its newest attraction.
The shuttle replica arrived in nearby Clear Lake on June 1 during what the space center termed “Shuttlebration.” The next day, the shuttle was loaded onto a “mobile transfer vehicle” and moved to Johnson Space Center on June 3.
NASA, which retired the space shuttle fleet last year, has given its fleet of space shuttles and related test vehicles to various museums across the country, including Kennedy Space Center (Atlantis) and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex in New York (Enterprise).
“The replica will help us remember and commemorate 30 years of shuttle flight,” the Houston Chronicle quoted Houston Mayor Annise Parker as saying at a recent news conference.
Although the Explorer is a replica, it was built from space shuttle blueprints. The shuttle stands 54 feet tall, is 122.7 feet long and has a 78-foot wingspan.
“NASA’s Space Shuttle changed the way we all think about space, making it more accessible, understandable and useful,” Richard Allen, president of Space Center Houston, said in a news release. “It is our intent to continue that legacy with this exciting new attraction, which will offer a one-of-a-kind visitor experience that will engage, educate and inspire the next generation of explorers.”
When finished, visitors will be able to enter the Explorer. The completed exhibit is set to open later this year.
“The arrival of the Space Shuttle attraction is the result of a great community-wide effort,” Michael Coats, director of Johnson Space Center, said in a news release. “Once open, the attraction will carry on the spirit of the Space Shuttle program by inspiring tomorrow’s space pioneers.”