Sunday, August 13, 2017

COSMOSPHERE INTERNATIONAL SPACE MUSEUM  


COSMOSPHERE INTERNATIONAL SPACE MUSEUM



     At the  Cosmosphere International Space Museum in Hutchison, Kansas, my wife Carla and I continued to be amazed that a town of only 42,000 people had been able to develop one of the top world's space  museums, a major destination for education about space exploration. 

     The museum started small when a local woman, Patricia Brooks Carey, bought a used star projector and opened a small planetarium in 1962.   In 1966 Dr. Robert H. Goddard's lab was added, Goddard being one of the first scientists to test rockets beginning in 1926. 

     By now the museum has the largest combined collection of U.S. and Russian space artifacts in the world.  It was easy to lose ourselves in the 105,000 square-feet of rockets, space capsules, astronaut suits and stories of creative and far-seeing personalities. 

      One of the planetarium's consultants was serving on a committee at the Smithsonian that was trying to find homes for thousands of space artifacts that had been released at the end of the Apollo program.  Adding artifacts from this collection led to the opening of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Discovery Center in 1980.  The museum continued to seek out and add artifacts and in 1997 a new venue was opened three times the size of the previous one.




One rocket is Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle the other Titan II rocket used in the Gemini Program



     Here is a quick overview.  As we approached the building, we saw two rockets standing at the corners. One was a Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle and the other a Titan II rocket used in the Gemini program.  The Titan was placed in the original rocket pit that had been used at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

     In the lobby was a Lockheed Blackbird overhead, the world's fastest spy plane at 2,200 miles-per-hour at 85,000 feet.  It had a black titanium surface that reached 600 degrees Fahrenheit--this one had flown many missions.

     The Germans had done much to develop rocketry in their V-1 and V-2 missile rockets which led the way to space exploration. A display told the story of how Wernher von Braun helped develop the two rockets and at the end of war how he took his team of scientists to the U.S. army rather be captured by the Russians.




A space shuttle stands in the lobby



     Despite the U.S. having von Braun, the Russians were ahead of us in the space race. A  section is devoted  to the Soviet Vostok Capsule--the U.S. was given a few capsules. The first man to use it to go into space was the Russian Yuri Gagarin.           

     Although the Apollo White Room doesn't look like much when you are standing in it you are standing in the actual room from which the astronauts entered their spacecraft on their way to the moon.

     The Apollo 13 had become famous after the narrow escape from death of its astronauts on a failed mission. The original Apollo 13 has been reconditioned after a massive search for its 80,000 components that had been spread across the world   The capsule itself had been taken back from a museum in Paris, France, after much political maneuvering. 

      We took in the three presentations that were available.  At the Digital Dome theater was "Dream Big: engineering our world," a 3D movie that told how engineers are making a better world including creating more space for humans by building earthquake-proof high rise buildings. We watched the Night Sky Live at the planetarium,

    We were  especially delighted at the live presentation in the Dr. Goddard's Lab by a young scientist who demonstrated  with energy, various forms of propulsion  used in rockets.  We were also impressed with the sophisticated questions asked by two ten-year -old girls sitting behind us. They were obviously very interested in science.

    We have visited the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and the  U.S Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama.  We found them all outstanding, but this nearby museum in a small town was a match in terms of the artifacts available for examination.





Moon landing suits




The actual Apollo 13




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