Space shuttle replica moved out of hiding

DOWNEY - A 128-ft. long replica of a NASA space shuttle belonging to the city of Downey was moved out of storage and into a temporary facility on the Downey Studios parking lot on Thursday. Built in 1972 by Rockwell International, the space shuttle mock-up will be housed under a temporary tent for public viewing until funding for a permanent home can be secured.

City officials heralded the relocation with a daylong celebration Thursday, bringing in the Warren High School band and hosting interactive exhibits for kids. The replica has remained in storage at Downey Studios for decades and the city hopes to eventually restore the full-size shuttle, which was used for two decades for detailed engineering fittings and testing.

First, however, the city needs to figure out how to pay for a permanent housing facility, which is expected to cost $2 million.

Preliminary plans call for the space shuttle to be located adjacent to the Columbia Memorial Space Center, the city's own hands-on learning center dedicated to teaching children about science and space exploration.

"Having this exciting shuttle mock-up attraction next to the Columbia Memorial Space Center will not only help further the space center's education programs, but it will provide visitors with a unique experience that will help engage and inspire the next generation of explorers," said Mayor Roger Brossmer.

As the engineering birthplace of both the Apollo program and the space shuttle, the former NASA site played a vital role in the evolution of space flight and exploration.

********** Published: July 12, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 13