Houston’s new space shuttle replica arrives by sea

A full-size shuttle replica atop a barge arrives at the Johnson Space Center docks in Houston.

After its hopes of landing a retired Space Shuttle were scrapped, Houston is now home to the next-closest thing — a full-size replica. Friday marked the end to an 8-day voyage across the Gulf of Mexico for the orbiter mockup that had previously welcomed visitors to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Hundreds crowded along the shoreline to witness the historic arrival of “Explorer” as it navigated the waters of Clear Lake atop a barge. The ship that never left the Earth will become the centerpiece of a new educational exhibit at Space Center Houston, the official visitors center of the Johnson Space Center.

In a salute at sea, two fire boats sprayed an arch of water for the shuttle to pass under as it approached its new home. Waiting on the shore — a crowd of onlookers and a “Shuttlebration Weekend” of activities featuring parades, fireworks, and music. A pair of  NASA T-38 Talon jets soared overhead in formation as the National Anthem was sung to mark the kickoff of the celebration. Continue reading