HUTCHINSON, Kan. – SpaceWorks, the division of the Cosmosphere specializing in artifact restoration, preservation and exhibit design – has just completed fabrication and installation of a display cradle for the Mercury-Redstone “Freedom 7” capsule, which goes on display Sept. 12 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Freedom 7 launched the first American into space on May 5, 1961, with astronaut Alan Shepard as commander.
“The project was referred to us by the Smithsonian, which underscores the tremendous working relationship we have with its curators,” said Jim Remar, President and COO of the Cosmosphere.
“Freedom 7 had previously been displayed in an acrylic case that wasn’t conducive to its long-term preservation,” Remar said. “The Smithsonian has confidence that anything produced by SpaceWorks will meet absolute museum specifications and ensure the long-term preservation of iconic artifacts.”
SpaceWorks designed a new cradle that not only showcases the capsule in optimum fashion but allows it to be transported, when necessary, between exhibits.
SpaceWorks’ Manager Dale Capps oversaw the installation of the new cradle in late August when the spacecraft was moved from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis to its new home at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Measuring 6-feet- by 4-feet, the cradle alone weighs 750 pounds to support the capsule’s 3000-pound weight.
Although its flight lasted only 15 minutes, Freedom 7 proved that America could successfully launch a man into space and return safely to Earth. The mission encouraged President Kennedy to launch the Apollo Moon Program a few weeks later.
“It is largely due to Freedom 7 that President Kennedy issued his famous challenge that the United States be the first nation to put a man on the Moon,” Remar said. “It seems fitting that the Freedom 7 be on display at his presidential library,” Remar said.
After its three-year exhibit in Boston, Freedom 7 will go to the Smithsonian for display in its collection.
The Smithsonian-affiliated Cosmosphere houses the largest collection of U.S. and Russian space artifacts anywhere outside the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and Moscow. The Cosmosphere’s SpaceWorks division has developed an international reputation for historic artifact preservation, replication and exhibit design. SpaceWorks has completed numerous projects for NASA, the Smithsonian, and a variety of Hollywood films, including Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 and his HBO Miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon.
The Cosmosphere is located at 1100 N. Plum in Hutchinson, Kan. www.cosmo.org
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