From Explorer to Independence

Houston's space shuttle mockup gets a new name in new home

Houston's space shuttle mockup gets a new name in new home

Shuttle Independence October 2013
After a contest to rename it, the shuttle mockup at Space Center Houston will be called "Independence". Photo by Robert Z. Pearlman/collectSPACE.com
New Space Center Houston exhibit
Concept artwork of the future shuttle attraction at Space Center Houston. Space Center Houston
Shuttle Independence October 2013
New Space Center Houston exhibit

After receiving 10,263 entries for the "Name the Shuttle" contest, officials have announced that the shuttle replica at Space Center Houston will be called "Independence." The competition was open to all adult Texans who were asked to submit names which captured the state's "optimism and can-do attitude."

Tim Judd, 29, of Kingwood, submitted the winning entry, saying independence is important to Texans, as well as all Americans. His name will appear on the exhibit and he will receive a free multi-day trip for four to Space Center Houston, including a VIP tour of the visitor center and a "behind-the-scenes experience" at Johnson Space Center.

 The replica is slated to sit atop a 747 shuttle carrier aircraft as part of a $12 million, six-story attraction currently under construction. 

 The shuttle mockup was called "Explorer" for 18 years while displayed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The name was retired before the mockup was transported to Houston last year. 

Space Center Houston officials plan to transform the replica into a unique, state-of-the-art exhibit to open in 2015. It is slated to sit atop a 747 shuttle carrier aircraft as part of a $12 million, six-story attraction currently under construction. 

It will be the only place in the world where visitors can climb aboard the shuttle replica to experience the space program in a hands-on way, officials said in a press release. Richard Allen, president and CEO of Space Center Houston, described the future attraction as "one of the best classrooms around here to get young people and young minds excited about science and math and engineering."