Houston’s shuttle gets new name, familiar ride
Houston’s space shuttle finally has a name. It was announced Saturday (Oct. 5) that the high-fidelity mockup would receive the name “Independence,” chosen from about 10,260 entries submitted to Space Center Houston. Each entry from Texas residents, of three words or less, had to symbolize the spirit of the state and its unique characteristics.
Tim Judd, 29, of Kingwood, who submitted the winning entry, said independence is important to Texas and all Americans. It was this view that sealed his entry’s name as the winner.
“Independence” was originally christened Explorer when it was displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. The mockup was moved from Florida because the complex was chosen as the new home of space shuttle Atlantis, which had flown some 33 missions into space.
At Kennedy, the interior of the replica shuttle could be viewed by visitors, including its payload bay and a mockup satellite. Plans are for Space Center Houston visitors to not only continue seeing inside the shuttle, but also its Boeing 747 shuttle-carrier aircraft, on which it will be mounted as part of a six-story tall exhibit – have garnered a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement.
The newly christened “Independence” and its SCA counterpart, known by tail number as NASA 905, is to not only be an attraction, but also to serve as the focal point for new educational programs to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and Math or “STEM” as they are collectively known.
While the shuttle is currently viewable to the public, plans are for the 747 to be brought from Ellington Field, its current storage location, to Space Center Houston in November of this year. Following reassembly of the airplane, a tower structure for access to both the 747 and Independence will also need to be built. Completion of the new exhibit is scheduled for early 2015.
Space Center Houston, the official visitor’s center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where astronauts train and the location of Mission Control, was widely thought to be on the short list for one of NASA’s four flown orbiters or for Enterprise, the prototype, following the spacecraft’s retirement in 2011. However, the location was not tapped to receive one of these historical treasures.
Instead, Discovery, the fleet leader with 39 missions was awarded to the Smithsonian Institution and can be seen at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va . Endeavour went to the California Science Center just south of downtown Los Angeles, and Enterprise was given to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
This article was produced with content appearing on the Associated Press as well as from Space Center Houston.
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