Houston may have missed out on its opportunity to play host to one of the 4 retired orbiters doled out recently by NASA. But it will end up with a space-shuttle-related attraction that jibes well with the Johnson Space Center’s longtime role as a practice and simulation site for training astronauts. Space news website CollectSpace is reporting that Space Center Houston will soon receive the Space Shuttle Explorer, a full-size orbiter mockup currently on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
One advantage of the Explorer over the 4 orbiters Houstonians wanted but couldn’t get (besides not having any layers of space dust to clean off): Visitors will be able to walk through it.
Space Center Houston exhibits manager Paul Spana tells CollectSpace that Explorer explorers will be able to access both the (simulated) flight deck and the (simulated) mid-level deck.
Also coming to Houston, and fitting in with this city’s insufficiently acknowledged role as a handy stand-in for outer space: a compartment trainer originally promised to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. CollectSpace also reports that Space Center Houston plans to construct a new 8,000-sq.-ft. building to house the mock crew cabin and other exhibits focused on the space-shuttle program. Spana says Space Center Houston is also hoping to get its hands on one of the launch pad walkways astronauts used to enter the orbiter, which he’d like to see attached to the trainer.
But the new Space Center facility won’t house Explorer itself. The shuttle mockup will be displayed outdoors in a configuration likely similar to its current one at the KSC Visitor Complex’s Space Shuttle Plaza. The Florida facility is sending the Explorer to Houston to make room for a new facility — to house the actual retired space shuttle Atlantis.
- Space shuttles trading spaces in Houston, New York City and Los Angeles [CollectSpace, via SciGuy]
- Previously on Swamplot: Why No Shuttle for Houston? Because Space Center Houston Isn’t So Big with the Tourists, Houston’s Space Shuttle Tribute — in Pieces, No Shuttle Parking: Space Center Houston’s Innovative Garage Design Loses Out