Seattle's Museum of Flight took possession of NASA's space-shuttle trainer this week, although it will be June before the public can see it.
It’s 121 feet long, made of plywood and was used to train every U.S. space-shuttle crew over the past 30 years.
And now it’s ours.
In an hourlong ceremony at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Thursday, NASA transferred ownership of the “full-fuselage shuttle trainer” to Seattle’s Museum of Flight.
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Doug King, Museum of Flight CEO, said the public should be able to see it by sometime in June in the museum’s recently dedicated $12 million Charles Simonyi Space Gallery.
The trainer is so large it will take five flights by NASA’s mammoth “super guppy” aircraft to transport it to Seattle, with each flight carrying one section of the disassembled trainer: crew quarters, front and back cargo-bay sections, base and tail.
Those flights will be scheduled to come into Boeing Field once a week starting in early May, King said. Transporting the trainer will cost the museum about $2 million.
King said he hopes to allow the public to see part of the process as the trainer is reassembled, as long as visitors can be accommodated safely.
The trainer, King said, will help the museum tell the story of the “incredible technological leap” of the shuttle program, which pioneered people’s ability to routinely live and work in space.
“People are going to be looking at this 100 years from now,” King said. “It tells an incredible story.”
The space gallery, across East Marginal Way South from the main museum building, was built in the hope the museum would get one of NASA’s four space shuttles as the shuttle program ended last year.
Instead, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden selected museums in New York, California, Florida and the Washington, D.C., area as permanent homes for the shuttles.
Although that made the trainer something of a consolation prize, King said, museum visitors will be able to step inside it, unlike the shuttles, which must be displayed in a way the public cannot touch them, to preserve them as artifacts.
The Seattle museum’s space gallery is named from Charles Simonyi, Medina software innovator, philanthropist and two-time space tourist.
Last month, the museum announced it will be housing, on a long-term loan from Simonyi, the Soyuz re-entry module that safely carried him back from a 2009 joint Russian-American space mission.
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org