WEBSTER —The Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft flew into Ellington Field for an air show. When it leaves today it will roll out in pieces.
The Shuttle Carrier will become the newest exhibit at Space Center Houston once it rolls down Highway 3 and NASA Parkway in a 1,000-foot convoy. It’s a project that began last year when the space center floated the idea of putting the 318,000-pound aircraft on display, said Jack Moore, spokesperson for Space Center Houston.
“We saw an opportunity not only to create an incredible exhibit but also to save a piece of history,” he said.
The approximately 231 foot long, 63 foot tall aircraft was specially modified to carry NASA space shuttles from landing sites to the launch complex at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But with the end of the shuttle program, the aircraft, known as NASA 905, was left with an uncertain future.
It was likely going to be retired, Moore said.
“Worst case scenario, it would end up in a barnyard and we just didn’t want that to happen,” he said.
But rather than being put out to pasture, the aircraft will find a new life at Space Center Houston.
It will begin its move tonight. It took 38 days to dismantle the aircraft. It is now on trailers at Ellington Field, prepared to make the 7.65-mile, two-day trip to Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Parkway.
Once at the space center, it will take about 44 days to reassemble. The center’s shuttle replica, Independence, will be placed on top of the airplane. The interior of the aircraft will be used as exhibit space to highlight the history of the shuttle program, among other topics, and visitors will be able to go inside the shuttle replica as well once the exhibit is complete.
The move and completion of the exhibit will likely cost about $12 million, Moore said. The funds are coming from an ongoing fundraising campaign. The group is also getting help and in kind donations from different organizations including Boeing, which is helping dismantle the aircraft, Moore said.
Space Center Houston is working with 30 public, private and government agencies to move the 747.
“It’s too amazing an artifact to let it go by the wayside,” Moore said.
Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
WHAT: A Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft will be moved to Space Center Houston in a 1,000-foot convoy.
WHEN: Today through Wednesday.
ROAD CLOSURES: State Highway 3 will be closed from 9 p.m. today until 4:30 a.m. Tuesday from Scarsdale to NASA Parkway. NASA Parkway will be closed from Highway 3 to Saturn Lane from 9 p.m. Tuesday to 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.