SPACE CENTER HOUSTON -- Texans will have the chance this summer to put their stamp on a piece of space exploration history at a massive exhibit planned for Space Center Houston.
NASA’s tourism hub is launching a statewide contest, beginning July 4, to determine the name of the space shuttle replica that will eventually sit atop an enormous 747 jetliner used to transport real orbiters.
The contest, open to any Texas resident, calls for participants to submit an original name for the mock-up orbiter delivered to Houston last year. The name should be no more than three words and should represent the “spirit of Texas and its unique characteristics of independence, optimism and can-do attitude,” according to the contest guidelines.
The contest will close Sept. 2, and a panel of judges will select the winner that month. The winning name will be painted onto the side of the space shuttle mock-up.
All contestants will receive a coupon for a discounted ticket at Space Center Houston, while the winner will have his or her name and hometown displayed on a placard at the exhibit. The winner will also receive a VIP trip for four to the center, and will be invited to attend the exhibit’s grand opening, planned for February 2015.
The planned $12 million outdoor complex, dubbed the “Shuttle and 747 Carrier,” calls for the construction of a six-story structure that will allow visitors to enter the mock-up and the shuttle carrier aircraft.
The shuttle model is already on display outside Space Center Houston, while the modified 747 jet is at Ellington Field, about five miles away.
To get the jumbo airliner to Space Center Houston, crews will have to remove its wings and tail, and section the fuselage into three pieces. The NASA 905, which took its last flight in December and was awarded to Space Center Houston last month, is set to be transported to the center by November.
Space Center Houston intends to modify both the exterior and interior of the shuttle mock-up before lifting and attaching the 130,000 pound model to the top of the aircraft carrier in 2014.
The center has launched a fundraising campaign to support work on the planned exhibit, and as of this month, has reached about half of its $11.7 million goal.
The exhibit will be open to the public and will play an integral role in educational programs to involve students in math and science.
To propose a name for the shuttle, visit nametheshuttle.com. The contest officially begins July 4.