Back in January, the Cosmosphere received a very special delivery of 19 mission control consoles from the historic Johnson Space Center Mission Control room. SpaceWorks, the Cosmosphere’s restoration and fabrication division, has been tasked with restoring the consoles to their former glory in time for NASA to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program in July of 2019.
So, what have the consoles being doing since January in Hutchinson? Well….not much.
“This is the part of the project that isn’t sexy, but is completely necessary,” said Shannon Whetzel, the Cosmosphere’s Curator.
“We have to document everything we’ve received and have on hand, and then match up those documentation numbers with NASA,” Whetzel explained. “For the components we are fabricating, we have to order parts, match paint and get all the groundwork laid to begin the actual work on the project.”
And while NASA holds overall command of this restoration, there are a number of organizations who oversee the different aspects of a project this scope. Whetzel said the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Office both hold guidelines that direct the Cosmosphere’s work.
“We want to make sure we are upholding the top preservation and conversation standards,” said Whetzel.
“We are just one contractor on one part of this renovation,” said Jack Graber, Vice President of Exhibits and Technology. “(NASA) has plans to refurbish the entire Mission Control room. They want it to look like the Apollo era room – down to the carpet and jackets hanging on the backs of chairs.”
Whetzel said that even a few cigarette butts and pennies found under the consoles as they were moved from the room were snatched up and documented by officials. “We come from a mindset that everything is an artifact,” Whetzel added.
Graber said that disassembly of the consoles will begin in April.
Stay tuned to the Cosmosphere blog social media for #historyintheremaking updates.