Shuttle replica docks on Clear Lake

June 1, 2012 7:09:12 PM PDT
A space shuttle replica is docked in Clear Lake -- its final stop before it moves to its permanent home at Space Center Houston.

Hundreds of people turned out today for a chance to watch the replica as it floated under the Kemah bridge and into Clear Lake.

It's quite a sight to see. The shuttle mockup is now docked at the end of Clear Lake, near Johnson Space Center. There were several thousand people watching as it entered the channel Friday afternoon after an eight day voyage across the Gulf of Mexico.

Witness Rhonda Hailey said, "It's just like, oh wow -- takes your breath away!"

"It's bigger than I imagined," said witness Marie Adams. "I love it."

The shuttle replica which once greeted visitors at Florida's Kennedy Space Center squeaked under the Seabrook-Kemah Bridge, the final leg of its journey to its new home.

"A piece of Houston history," said witness Scott Newsom. "It's not the real thing, but it's pretty neat to have around here."

Authorities shut down the bridge to traffic and kept those on the water at a distance. Thousands lined up to watch as the 122 foot long shuttle replica slowly snaked up the channel. Engineers carefully took measurements weeks ago to make sure there was enough clearance under the bridge, and planned the passage at low tide just to be sure.

It's the largest item to arrive at the dock here since the Saturn V arrived for display in 1972. It's a homecoming of sorts to an area that feared the worst with the retirement of the shuttle program.

"I think this is wonderful," said witness Mike Luedde. "It shows that there's still a really still strong interest in our space heritage and the program itself."

Given the turnout to watch the trip, there's little question about that.

"Shuttlebration" schedule of events:

Friday, June 1:

* 2:00 PM - Event Area Open to Public
Transportation to and from Johnson Space Center will begin. Street party area will include NASA space exploration exhibits, music and entertainment from 2pm - 9pm.
* 3-5:00 PM Shuttle Replica Arrives at NASA Dock with Fire Boat Water Arch
* 4:30 PM Welcome Ceremony & T-38 Flyover
* 6:30 - 8:30 Music by Max Q, the all Astronaut Band
9:00 PM Fireworks Display on Clear Lake
10:00 PM Final Tram Returns to Parking Area
* Schedule subject to change

Saturday, June 2:
The space shuttle replica will be loaded onto a mobile transfer vehicle for transport to SCH. The lakeside load-out will take a full day to complete. There are no public events planned for this day.

Sunday, June 3:
5:00 - 8:00 AM - Replica transported along NASA Parkway from JSC dock to Space Center Houston. NASA Parkway and NASA 1 Bypass will be closed from 5 AM - 9 AM
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM - Following the arrival, there will be a free, family-oriented public celebration in the Space Center Houston parking lot, offering viewing opportunities of the replica, NASA space exploration exhibits, fun activities for the entire family and much more. Discount admission to Space Center Houston is available online.


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