Webster plans for new Apollo Center to bring more visitors and aerospace business

Giant astronaut statue could mark the center celebrating aerospace technology
February 4, 2014 3:15:14 PM PST
The city of Webster just bought about six acres of undeveloped land to build what they're calling the Apollo Center. It's a project they hope will be a shot in the arm for the local economy.

If plans come to fruition, there will one day be an 80 foot tall Apollo-era astronaut greeting all those who pass the corner near West Nasa Road 1 and I-45.

"This would be an icon, for not only Webster but NASA and this whole south part of Texas," said renowned sculptor David Adickes.

Adickes, the same man who built the slightly shorter Sam Houston statue in Huntsville, has been commissioned for the job.

"The excitement comes when I actually start trying to figure out how to do it and where it's going to be done," he said. "All the details, that's the fun part."

The statue could even have an elevator with a viewing platform up inside the helmet where visitors can get a bird's eye view over Space City. Along with that, organizers want to build a visitors' center focusing on the Apollo era's rich history and future innovations that still can come from NASA's work.

"I look at these intellectually, and I think it's a great thing for them to do," said former Apollo astronaut Walt Cuningham.

He's supporting the project, which also would include construction across the street of a giant aerospace industry business incubator. The idea is to build a place where commercial companies from around the world can come and collaborate on projects involving cutting edge technology.

"Collaboration -- that's where you really have a bond with people when you work together, not just when you show up and discuss what you've done and then leave," said organizer Billy Burge.

Burge helped get Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium, Toyota Center and other structures built around Houston. He hopes this will be a successful venture which will bring back expertise and experience that left the area with the end of the space shuttle program.

"It's jobs, period," Burge said.

Business leaders are stoked about the idea. Nancy Picou, who owns a bra boutique in Webster, says anything that brings more people to the area is welcomed.

"We need more, you know. Things have been slow," she said. "Any kind of increase would be great."

The Apollo center is a nonprofit organization and must find funding through donations, fundraisers and grants. For more info on the project, visit ApolloAndBeyond.org.

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