On Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Cosmosphere will begin creating high-resolution, full-color, digitally interactive 3D models of the space museum’s collection starting with one of the most iconic crafts in American history—the Mercury spacecraft: Liberty Bell 7. The craft will be uncased by museum staff and then 3D laser-scanned by a company from Florida called Creaform. Creaform is donating their services to the non-profit museum for this project.
“Our goal is to create a digital library of artifacts in our collection,” said Nathan Meyer, Cosmosphere VP of Education and Strategy. “The pandemic really amplified the need for accessible, quality educational resources and we want to help provide those to the public at large,” he added.
Cosmosphere staff will take full-color, high-resolution photos of the craft once the case has been removed. By layering those photos with the detailed 3D laser-scan of the spacecraft, a fully digital and interactive 3D model will be created. That digital model can then be used for 3D printing, in virtual reality software and placed alongside corresponding educational resources online.
“With over 10,000 pieces in our collection, this isn’t going to be an overnight project,” explained Meyer. “But we wanted to start with a major piece of space history and the Liberty Bell 7 gets a lot of attention, both locally and internationally—as it spent the previous six years on a world tour, so we thought it was the perfect piece to start with.” Meyer said.
While similar work has already began on smaller artifacts housed in the museum’s collection, the Liberty Bell 7 3D model will be the premiere example of the new digital offerings available via a virtual museum platform, which the Cosmosphere team plans to launch in 2021.
A sneak peek of the Liberty Bell 7 project, including a time-lapse video of the 3D scanning, will be available to view on the Cosmosphere’s social media sites next week.
Media interested in covering the Liberty Bell 7 3D scanning project must contact Carla Stanfield. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to secure a time.
More about Liberty Bell 7:
Liberty Bell 7 was the spacecraft that took the second US astronaut, Gus Grissom, into space before sinking in the Atlantic Ocean, where it stayed for nearly 40 years. The craft was recovered from the ocean floor in 1999 from a depth of more than 15,000 feet–deeper than the Titanic! SpaceWorks, a division of the Cosmosphere, helped to retrieve and conserve the craft to the state it appears in today. Liberty Bell 7 is owned by the Cosmosphere, making it the only privately owned American spacecraft.
More about Cosmosphere:
Featuring the largest combined collection of U.S. and former Soviet space artifacts —the Cosmosphere International Science Education Center & Space Museum in Hutchinson, KS—tells the story of the Space Race unlike any other museum! As Kansas’ only Smithsonian-affiliated museum, the Cosmosphere is the only place in the Midwest to boast a flown craft from all three early manned spaceflight programs (the Mercury Liberty Bell 7, the Gemini X and the Apollo 13 Odyssey). Find more at www.cosmo.org.