DAYTON, OHIO: The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is ready to launch a mock-up space shuttle exhibit that was assembled after it lost out in a competition among U.S. museums to get a retiring shuttle.
The walk-through exhibit opens Feb. 26 and includes the first crew compartment trainer used by the shuttle astronauts to prepare for missions.
Museum aerospace educator Cindy Henry told the Dayton Daily News that the cockpit simulator is the same size as a real shuttle’s. The NASA space shuttle trainer was acquired by the southwest Ohio museum in 2012. The shuttle program ended in 2011, after 30 years of missions.
“The exhibit itself is probably the single biggest exhibit we have here at the museum,” Henry said. “In its entirety, it’s tremendous asset to us.”
The mock-up includes an engine and tail section, as well as a payload bay carrying a reconnaissance satellite. There’s also a 60-seat educational area that will have space-related videos.
The museum has two interactive landing simulators, allowing visitors to test their ability to “land” an orbiter. It plans to continue adding artifacts and interpretive information. Henry said curators expect to have spacesuits, heat-resistant tiles and other items that were part of the shuttle era.
Eventually the exhibit will be part of a sprawling hangar gallery in the museum’s planned fourth building.