$15 Million NASA Artifact Arrives at CSU Space Science Center

COLUMBUS, Ga. —  A part of space exploration history is about to make Columbus its home. A main engine nozzle from the space shuttle arrives Friday at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center in preparation to become part of a permanent display at the center in Uptown Columbus.

Nozzle arrrives at CCSSC.To celebrate the arrival of the $15 million artifact, two free public ceremonies will take place as the nozzle travels by trailer Friday morning from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to Columbus. The public can check out the nozzle at:

  • Phenix City Intermediate School, 2401 South Railroad St., Phenix City, Ala., during a 6:30 p.m. nozzle arrival, ceremony and photo opportunities.
  • Coca-Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Ave., Columbus, for outdoor entertainment and refreshments at 7 p.m., followed by a 7:45 p.m. nozzle arrival, ceremony and photo opportunities.

That the nozzledesignated as an artifact for CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Centerreaches Columbus on July 20 is not by accident. It was scheduled then to coincide with the 43rd anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon.

“Just as Apollo 11 marked the beginning of a new era of exploration, Friday’s NASA artifact transfer marks an important paradigm shift for the space science center,” said Mary Johnson, the center's assistant director. “With the arrival of these historical additions to the center, the center’s tourism value, the impact within the Columbus community, throughout the region and state, will be significantly enhanced, as will the center’s ability to continue to provide innovative and unique opportunities for inquiry-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.”

The nozzle that the center will exhibit has flown to space nine times and on all four shuttles in service during its lifetime – Atlantis (three times), Discovery (twice), Endeavour (once) and Columbia (three times). It was involved in 39 total engine starts — 24 for development and testing, three for engine certification and 12 actual launch-pad firings, including a flight readiness firing before Endeavour's maiden voyage and two launch-pad aborts.

The overall engine burn time on the nozzle is more than five hours and 16 minutes, a “truly phenomenal statistic considering it only takes the shuttle about eight minutes to get to space,” said Shawn Cruzen, director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and a CSU professor of astronomy.

The nozzle is the largest of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center’s nearly $20 million in artifacts it will receive from NASA.

For more information, call Johnson at 706-649-1486 or email mary@ccssc.org.

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Photo caption: A crowd was on hand at Columbus State's Coca-Cola Space Science Center on July 20 to welcome the arrival of a space shuttle nozzle. (Photo by Tamma Smith)