New Traveling Space Exhibit Features Historic Apollo-era Mission Control Consoles

Jun 21, 2018

A team from the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson is creating a new traveling exhibit that features consoles used during the Apollo space missions.

NASA’s flight control team planned, trained and executed space missions on the consoles at Johnson Space Center in Houston from the 1960s until the early 1990s.

The Cosmosphere obtained the consoles after they were decommissioned.

The Cosmosphere team led by Jack Graber, vice president of exhibits and technology, will restore 12 of the original consoles for a new interactive educational exhibit.

"It’s a great project. We are really looking forward to it," Graber says. "To be able to take this history and spread it across the U.S. and let people experience it firsthand is tremendous."

The mission control center was used for Gemini, Apollo, Apollo/Soyuz, Skylab and Space Shuttle missions including the Apollo 11 and 13 missions. Graber says the flight control consoles are original and will be fully refurbished.

"We own the actual consoles that were used in the back room during the Apollo missions and during some of the shuttle missions. They will be traveling around for people to see and experience and see that history first hand," Graber says.

A team from the Cosmosphere's SpaceWorks division is handling the console restoration project.
Credit LaRissa Lawrie / KMUW

NASA awarded the Cosmosphere a $650,000 grant to cover the cost of refurbishing the consoles and creating the educational components for the exhibits.

NASA's Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions (TEAM II) selected the Cosmosphere’s proposal as one of three projects to fund from 43 submissions.

The projects are designed to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists.

The consoles will be sent to schools, science museums and other organizations nationwide beginning in April.

The Cosmosphere's SpaceWorks division is handling the restoration, conservation and replica creation for this project.

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