Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center to Host Smithsonian Curator

Earlier this year, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center was awarded a one-of-a-kind artifact from America’s Space Shuttle Program. The Quarter-Scale Space Shuttle Engineering Prototype was the largest high fidelity test article constructed in preparation for the first manned flight of the four-bodied space transport system. Valued at $9.3 million, Columbus, Georgia is now home to this remarkable piece of history.

Hailed by Robert Sherouse (iTransition Manager, Office of Infrastructure, NASA HQ) as one of the five “most extraordinary components of the Space Shuttle Program,” the Quarter-Scale Shuttle offers unique insight into the engineering challenges and testing processes involved in human space travel.

To talk more about future possibilities with this artifact, CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center is hosting Dr. Valerie Neal, curator of the Space History Division at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  Neal has extensive knowledge of the human spaceflight program and is one of a handful of experts versed in the role that the Coca-Cola Space Science Center's newest artifact acquisition played in NASA's Space Shuttle Program.

Neal joined the Smithsonian as a curator in 1989 and is responsible for artifact collections from the Space Shuttle era and International Space Station, most prominently the orbiter, Discovery. She led the museum’s effort to prepare the shuttle test vehicle Enterprise for public display and to acquire Spacelab, SpaceShipOne, and the Manned Maneuvering Unit for the national collection.

Neal will be presenting at the center’s VIP reception Thursday evening when the center announces plans to house the Quarter-Scale Shuttle. Additionally, she will meet with Columbus State students and area young professionals Friday morning to share her career experiences and lead an open dialogue on the museum industry, human spaceflight, and what it means to have a space shuttle in Georgia. This addition is transformative not only for the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, but also for Columbus State University STEM programming, and enrichment, education, and tourism for the Columbus region and

For more information, please contact Mary Johnson, assistant director of  CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, at 706-649-1486 or