CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary

COLUMBUS, Ga. --- Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center (CCSSC) hosted a free, family-friendly event Saturday, July 16 with special guest Carl McNair, brother of Challenger Astronaut Ron McNair, to celebrate its 20th year as the region's top destination for space science education.

Ron McNair was one of seven crew members who died when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart off the coast of Cape Canaveral in 1986. Carl McNair spoke about his brother’s legacy in the space science center’s Omnisphere Theatre. One of those legacies is the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, which led to the establishment of 40 Challenger Learning Centers across the country, one of which is at CCSSC.

Ron McNair

Other activities included:

-- Tours of the Challenger Learning Center, Space Shuttle artifacts and the WestRock Observatory, home to the Planewave 24-inch telescope
-- Shows in the Omnisphere Theater
-- Sneak preview of the Space Shuttle Odyssey Theater
-- Air rocket construction and flights
-- Solar telescopes
-- Robots
-- UV beads
-- 3-D printing
-- Science shows
-- Information about the quarter-scale Space Shuttle prototype
-- T-shirt and souvenir giveaways




NASA recently gifted a one-of-a-kind artifact from the Space Shuttle Program: a quarter-scale engineering prototype of the Space Shuttle that served a vital function in the development of America’s space program. The model was used to test the integrity of the shuttle before the full-scale spacecraft was produced. CCSSC is raising money to construct a new home for the shuttle prototype at the center. To learn more or to make a donation, call 706-649-1477.

About CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center
The Coca-Cola Space Science Center is an educational outreach center of Columbus State University. More than 40,000 guests and 25,000 students visit the center annually to watch space-themed shows in the Omnisphere Theater, test mini Mars rovers, run flight simulations or whisper in the secret sound tube (a tube that allows visitors to talk to each other from 50 feet away).

On display in the CCSSC gallery is a Space Shuttle Main Engine Nozzle that flew into space nine times, a console from the Kennedy Space Center’s Firing Room 3 and the leading edge of the Space Shuttle’s wing.

CCSSC 20th Anniversary

CSU’s CCSSC operates one of only 40 Challenger Learning Centers in the country. The Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded by the families of the Challenger crew members to continue the crew’s educational mission. Using simulated learning and role-playing strategies, the center teaches teamwork, communication, problem solving and critical thinking skills to young students.

The CCSSC is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for military service members and seniors, $4 for children and $3 for CSU students with ID.

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