Space Shuttle Artifacts Destined for Display in Columbus

rocket conesCOLUMBUS Ga. — More than $17 million worth of NASA Space Shuttle parts are scheduled for donation to Columbus State University's Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

Anticipating a day when the shuttles are no longer flying, NASA created a program through which universities, schools and science museums would be allowed to apply to receive and house spacecraft components, flight hardware, and other authentic artifacts from the Space Shuttle program.

Lance Tankersley, Omnisphere Theatre director at CSU's space center, applied for the program and learned last week that when NASA no longer needs them, Columbus is slated to receive a treasure trove of shuttle artifacts, including:

• A piece of the main engine nozzle weighing 4,300 pounds
• On-board computer
• An escape basket that astronauts would use from the launch pad
• A section of the 49-feet-long Orbiter’s wing
• A biomedical console from the launch control room
• A shuttle tire
• A tool box
• A shuttle Orbiter window

“The addition of these historic and valuable artifacts to the inventory of CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center constitutes a new era for this facility, a tremendous increase in teaching tools for its educational programming, and an amazing new opportunity to inspire and train the next generation of space scientists and engineers,” said Shawn T. Cruzen, executive director of Coca-Cola Space Science Center and chair of the university’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences.

“This collection coming to Columbus also represents a remarkable opportunity for the city and the region to increase tourism and benefit the local economy.”

The artifacts would be not be available until at least January 2011, which gives Cruzen and his staff needed time to figure out how to properly store and display all the pieces coming.

“This is so very, very exciting,” said Columbus State University President Tim Mescon. “NASA’s Space Shuttle program is an historic chapter in American history. Having actual components of that history in our exhibition and research facility will be incredible. Nothing could be more fitting for our center devoted to inspiring student interest in math and science.”