HUTCHINSON — Four mission control consoles, once used by NASA engineers to guide astronauts to the moon, have found their way out of Cosmosphere storage with a new purpose.
A $151,500 remodel includes improvements to the flight room and mission control room. The renovation is slated for completion by April 19, when the Cosmosphere hosts an educational camp for the Barstow School, a private school in Kansas City, Mo.
“It’s going to look spectacular,” Cosmosphere President and CEO Jim Remar said. “It’s neat to think our students will be sitting at consoles that mission control sat at.”
These consoles were used by engineers in the back room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The engineers in the back room collaborated with the mission control room — often depicted in movies with stations and consoles all facing a large screen displaying vital information on the current mission.
Remar said the Cosmosphere’s mission control room will also feature a large video display, but a major difference with the Cosmosphere consoles will be the new technology and software integrated into the machines. This will allow the students to be more interactive.
NASA used the consoles during missions from the 1960s through the early 1990s. The Cosmosphere obtained the consoles shortly after they had been decommissioned. The Cosmosphere stored them at their nearby SpaceWorks location ever since.
“It gives me goosebumps to think that the same consoles that helped get man to the moon are being used by our campers,” said Tracey Tomme, the Cosmosphere’s chief operations officer. “Maybe one of the first astronauts to go to Mars will find their inspiration through these consoles and their Cosmosphere Camp experience.”
Remar said improvements to the adjacent flight room are mainly to create more vertical space to accommodate larger educational programs. Work by Hutton Construction started in late February.
The work includes new carpet and painted walls as well. Remar said the work was timed so it didn’t interfere with any camps.
The project is part of a capital campaign using fundraised dollars. Remar said they need to raise another $1.4 million to complete all the planned renovations on the educational side.
Remar hopes to complete the educational components by the end of this fall.
Another $4 million is needed in fundraising for the museum project, which Remar hopes to start in the fall of 2019.