Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Report: Houston to Get KSCVC Mockup Orbiter

The mockup orbiter Explorer at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Image source: Wikipedia.

The web site collectSPACE reports that Space Center Houston will receive the mockup orbiter Explorer from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Explorer, a full-scale space shuttle replica that for years has been on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, will be moved to Space Center Houston. The lot it leaves vacant in Florida will be filled by a new facility to display shuttle Atlantis.

Unlike Atlantis and the other flown shuttles, Explorer will offer Space Center Houston guests the opportunity to go where the other orbiters' visitors cannot: inside.

"Of course, we are very disappointed we didn't get a real orbiter, but we're excited we're getting a shuttle mockup," Paul Spana, Space Center Houston's exhibits manager, told collectSPACE. "With the other orbiters, you'll be able to go up to them and see them but you can't actually go on board, you can't actually go inside of it. So we see that as being a positive thing about receiving the Explorer; our guests will be able to access the mockup on two levels: one on the flight deck and then on the mid-level deck."

Hopefully this will placate Houstonians who have been scheming to take away an orbiter from other museums that submitted more attractive bids to NASA.

UPDATE 4:00 PM EDTThe Houston Chronicle comments on this report.

So if you were mad about the original decision to locate the shuttles in New York, California, Washington, D.C. and Florida, especially in light of New York’s recent location troubles, does the acquisition of Explorer and these related artifacts mollify you?

It should be noted that the Chronicle claim of "New York's recent location troubles" is greatly exaggerated. The Intrepid is simply looking at a second nearby location where they could add classrooms and educational facilities to the orbiter Enterprise display.

UPDATE October 5, 2011Florida Today reports on the Explorer negotiations.

Explorer, a fixture at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex since the 1990s, might be moved to Houston to make room for the building that will house the real shuttle orbiter Atlantis at KSC.

Explorer, located next to shuttle external tank and rocket booster replicas, is a full-scale walk-through exhibit that enables visitors to look into its payload bay and cockpit.

KSC spokesman Allard Beutel said talks have been ongoing with Space Center Houston, the visitor complex at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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