Independence Plaza opens to great fanfare

Photo: Space Center Houston

Photo: Space Center Houston

By Mary Alys Cherry

The pride of Clear Lake just got better.

Space Center Houston, which is already one of the top tourist draws in Texas is now both bigger and better with the opening of the Space Shuttle Independence atop the first shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905, a Boeing 747. And, don’t for a minute think it is like any old shuttle.

It took many months of work and $12 million to bring it to fruition.

The colossal – and you’ll agree once you see it up close – Independence Plaza opened with great fanfare: fireworks, skydivers, astronauts, hands-on science activities for students and live presentations. And, it did not disappoint. Even the reporters and photographers were awed as they surveyed the multi-story structure.

For openers, while it is a shuttle replica, it was built exactly like the other shuttles – minus the motors –and is the only shuttle in the world one can walk through. In addition to seeing the controls and seats where astronauts would sit, you will be treated to an array of interactive exhibits and space program artifacts. You can sit where the shuttle pilots sat and walk down to where the mission specialists sat as the exhibits immerse visitors in the science and history of the shuttle era.

Also, you can walk through the giant 747. Much of the inside has been replaced with displays, but first class seats remain for your perusal, and you can walk around and see just how big the plane is.

And, best of all, the price of admission includes the shuttle display and 747.

Also, Bay Area residents can purchase a Space Center Houston membership for a few dollars more than a full-price admission ticket and return free all year long the year with free parking, special events and much more. For more information on Space Center Houston, visit spacecenter.org

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