News Release

Space Center Houston Announces Opening of International Landmark

HOUSTON, Aug. 12, 2015 – It’s a date! Space Center Houston will open the new international landmark Independence Plaza on Jan. 23. The eight-story-tall multiple-exhibit complex is the biggest project for the nonprofit since the center opened in 1992 and features a shuttle replica mounted on top of the first shuttle carrier aircraft.

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“Completing Independence Plaza is the result of years of planning and dedication by many generous people from the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, NASA Johnson Space Center and donors throughout the country,” said Richard E. Allen Jr., president and CEO of Space Center Houston. “Thanks to hundreds of supporters, this incredible exhibit will challenge visitors to think about innovation and creativity.”

The announcement comes on the anniversary of the first free flight of a shuttle on Aug. 12, 1977, when Enterprise was released from atop what is now Space Center Houston’s shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905. That SCA ferried shuttles 223 times and now carries the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence, the world’s only shuttle mounted on an SCA and the only place where the public will be able to enter both.

The jumbo-sized complex will give visitors a rare glimpse into the historic shuttle era and the NASA breakthroughs and technological advances gained from the shuttle program which impacted future exploration. An elevator tower will take visitors inside both the shuttle and the airplane. In the shuttle they will see the flight deck, mid-deck, payload bay and exhibits. The airplane will have multiple exhibits in seven different areas that explore innovation, science and technology. Visitors will see inside the plane’s cockpit and learn how the plane was retrofitted to carry the shuttle.

Supporting Space Center Houston’s educational mission, the exhibits also emphasize problem-solving concepts and possible career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It honors those who designed, built and flew in America’s space shuttle program by recounting stories from astronauts, engineers and pilots.  The plaza shows the key role NASA Johnson Space Center played in the shuttle’s development and looks to the future at research and science happening now at NASA.

The exhibit complex will host educational programs and be used for special and private events in and around the plane. Visit www.spacecenter.org/independence to learn more.

The nonprofit has raised $10.1 million in the $12 million capital campaign called Bring the Legacy Home. To join the many generous donors who honored the remarkable story of the shuttle program, visit www.spacecenter.org/giving.

There is always something new to see at Space Center Houston. Connect to receive updates as construction continues and watch the exhibit complex come to life. Go to our Visitor Info page for ticket prices and tips to enjoy your visit.  Space Center Houston Members will enjoy a preview of the exhibit before it opens to the public. Purchase a Membership for as little as $26.95 and become a part of the foundation’s mission. Return free as often as you like during the year with free parking, special events and much more.

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The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit space museum with an extensive science education program. The cornerstone of its science education mission is Space Center Houston, which USA Today called “The Big Draw” in the greater Houston area with more than 800,000 visitors annually and a $45 million economic impact on the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate and the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center.  The center draws more than 100,000 teachers and students annually from around the world. For more information, go to www.spacecenter.org.

SOURCE: Manned Space Flight Education Foundation

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