Here's a rummage sale advertisement you don't see very often:
Thirty-year-old space shuttle seeks loving, well-equipped museum
But that's more or less NASA's plan for its three retiring space
shuttles - Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis. And Chicago's Adler
Planetarium has spent more than a year wooing the space agency to
be exactly that home.
The planetarium, located on Chicago's lakefront Museum Campus,
released this week a glimpse into the proposal it submitted to NASA
last winter. The plans include an artist's rendering of a
yet-to-be-designed home for the space shuttle, should NASA award it
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"When we heard [NASA was looking for proposals], we thought it
was just a natural for us," says Adler President Paul
Knappenberger. "We're excited about it and we think we've made a
strong case to bring the shuttle to Chicago."
That case includes a new building, which has yet to be
officially designed but which would likely made largely out of
glass, with the shuttle on prominent display against the backdrops
of the city skyline to the west and the lake to the east.
The new wing would sit where the parking lot currently is and
would house the shuttle, along with the flight simulator NASA uses
to train shuttle astronauts, which will come permanently to Adler
later this year in an unrelated deal. The parking lot would be
Knappenberger says the flight simulator and the shuttle would
make for a powerful exhibit about space exploration. He says the
proposal, one of 21 submitted by U.S. space and flight museum,
stressed keeping the shuttle accessible, from opening the cargo bay
doors to a crawl-through tunnel for kids.
Adler also plans to highlight the roles of Chicagoans and
Midwesterners in the shuttle's history.
Astronaut John Grunsfeld, who flew five shuttle missions, grew
up in Chicago. So did Joan Higginbotham, a 1982 graduate of Whitney
Young Magnet High School and a 2006 missions specialist aboard
discovery. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel
in space, was another product of Chicago Public Schools, graduating
from Morgan Park in 1973.
"Those stories, those personal stories, would be a way for
visitors to connect with this great icon of American space
exploration and leadership," Knappenberger says.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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