Free Shuttle Artifacts!
The four orbiters are already taken, but thousands more shuttle-related items are still available—at no cost.
- By Mark Betancourt
- AirSpaceMag.com, August 29, 2011
NASA Photo / Houston Chronicle
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Gruener had her students break into groups and begin researching their little piece of shuttle history (which is numbered) to find out where on the orbiter it may have come from. So far, they think it was from somewhere under one of the cockpit windows.
“It is inspiring to have this very real part of the space program as a part of our science program,” says Gruener. “Every time I hold it I am amazed how far the space program has evolved.”
All the institutions receiving shuttle artifacts relish the opportunity to teach their visitors and students about human spaceflight while helping to preserve its history. Hagedorn and the Museum of Flight have plans to share their high-quality interpretive material with the museums that received actual orbiters (lest they become giant paperweights), and Bailey’s Evergreen will use its artifacts to help explain the science of spaceflight, including, yes, how astronauts go to the bathroom.
NASA has shut down space programs before, says Phillips, but this time the agency may be paying more attention to ensuring that the smaller artifacts find a home. “I think the difference is that in the past, with the rush to the moon, they were in such a hurry, and [NASA had] this concept that spaceflight would be around forever,” he says. “Now I think they’re a little more concerned about the legacy they’re leaving.”