Grand opening at Space Foundation April 2 for specialized lab used on shuttlesU.S. Space Shuttle flights used a specialized laboratory module from 1983 to 1998 (with some aspects continuing after that).
Now one of those four modules - called Spacelabs - has found a home at the Space Foundation's Discovery Center, 4425 Arrowswest Drive (off Garden of the Gods Road).
The unit's grand opening will be Sunday, April 2 from 5:30 to 9 p.m., The night will also feature five astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut,
Open to adults only, the admission will be $45 in advance ($60 at the door).
After that, the Spacelab will become a permanent exhibit at the Discovery Center, available to view or walk through during regular center hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.
It was a gift from the European Space Agency and the United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing), after spending its in-service years at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.
Decommissioned in 2011, the Mountain View unit is an exact copy of Spacelabs used on shuttle missions, which allowed scientists on the ground to “work along with the astronauts,” said Travis Chenck of the Space Foundation.
“It's great to have a piece like this,” he added. “There were a lot of Spacelab experiments that told us what happens to our bodies in space.”
Chenck pointed out that it was a feat in itself just getting the two-part unit - 16 feet, 6 inches tall and 24 tons - to its new home this winter. “It's taller than most overpasses,” he explained. On the trip from California, “they had to take a very interesting route.”
There was a new problem when the transport vehicle reached the Space Foundation building. “We had to increase the height of the door,” he grinned.
Cleaning has since been required, as the Mountain View Spacelab had been outside for awhile and evidently neglected. “There were bird nests and snails,” Chenck noted. So that's been a chore for Discovery Center personnel in the weeks leading up to Yuri's Night.
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