Columbus State News


Space Shuttle Prototype Closer to Finding New Home in Georgia

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COLUMBUS, Ga. — A quarter-scale prototype of a NASA Space Shuttle is headed for permanent display at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

NASA recently gave Columbus State University the 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.

“As an artifact, it is an irreplaceable part of our nation’s heritage,” said Shawn Cruzen, Columbus State University astronomy professor and executive director of CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center. “It will provide us with a real-life teaching tool to aid in our mission to excite kids and our college students about science technology, engineering and mathematics.”

The largest sub-scale prototype of the shuttle ever constructed, this piece is big enough to simulate all of the shuttle’s primary structural elements and joints. The system features a 30-foot orbiter with a 19.5-foot wingspan, a 38-foot-long external tank with a 7-foot diameter and two 37-foot-long solid rocket boosters. When stacked vertically, the prototype stands more than 48-feet tall. The prototype was tested in a variety of angles and configurations, including variable loading of the external tanks, allowing replication of the most critical stages of the shuttle’s flight to space.

The artifact has been kept outside of Columbus for a few months and was recently trucked down the interstate to the Columbus airport for storage as the Space Science Center develops plans and raises funds for new exhibit space that will house the prototype at the center in downtown Columbus.

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