Space Science Center to Receive Historic Space Shuttle Nozzle
COLUMBUS, Ga. – After initially planning to retain all shuttle nozzles for use in their next generation of space vehicles, NASA is allowing one to go on display, and it is coming to Columbus State University’s Coca Cola Space Science Center.
“This piece is a true NASA veteran and a serious workhorse of the Space Shuttle program,” Shawn Cruzen, director of the Space Science Center, said. “It is dripping with history, and we will be able to use it to tell an amazing story of American space flight in our facility.”
It would not have happened without intervention of local politicians, including Senators Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.), and Congressmen Sanford D. Bishop (Ga.) and Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.) – whose offices all contacted NASA on CSU’s behalf, Cruzen said.
The hope was that the nozzle had some significance to the space program, that perhaps it was used in testing or prototyping, maybe even flowing on a mission. What CSU’s space center received was much more given the nozzle’s storied history:
- It has been into space nine times and has been on all four of the shuttles in service during its lifetime – Atlantis and Columbia (three times each), Discovery (twice) and Endeavour (once).
- It carried Charles Bolden, NASA’s current NASA Director, to space on the first-ever flight of a shuttle to the Mir Space Station, and shuttle astronauts Jim Wetherbee, Brian Duffy and Roger Crouch – all of whom have visited the Space Science Center – also flew on flights using this nozzle.
- It was involved in 39 total engine starts – 24 for development and testing, 3 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 this nozzle is 5 hours 16 minutes and 13 seconds.
The nozzle is just one of a series of space artifacts that will be coming to the space science center over the coming years. Including the nozzle, artifacts totaling $19,123,557 are slated for the Space Science Center. To accommodate the items will mean a $4 million renovation project for the facility. Of that total $2.5 million would be for renovating the exterior and an additional $1.5 million for exterior modifications. A fundraising drive will be initiated to help reach the targeted goal.
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Caption: Shuttle nozzle courtesy of NASA