It’s a big day for space nerds. On the East Coast today, Space Shuttle Discovery is making its final flight this morning – going from Florida to Washington, D.C., on the back of a Boeing 747, to a new home at the Smithsonian.
And later this morning in Seattle, officials at the Museum of Flight will take the wraps off the first piece of a Shuttle Trainer that will be the centerpiece of the museum’s new Space Gallery.
It’s all part of the winding down of the Space Shuttle program. NASA is distributing artifacts from the program and the orbiters themselves to museums around the country. Seattle competed for one of the orbiters but came up short in the competition, based on questionable data.
The Full Fuselage Trainer is made of plywood and has no wings, but it trained astronauts dating back to the 1970s, and visitors will be able to walk around inside, which isn’t the case with the actual orbiters.
At the museum this morning, officials will unveil one of three engine bells from the trainer, the first portion to arrive.
The trainer will be accompanied in the gallery by a Soyuz capsule on loan from Charles Simonyi, the space tourist and former Microsoft after whom the new Space Gallery is named.