Remnants from destroyed space shuttles are now open to public viewing.
The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida has finally offered to make the wreckage of the Challenger and Columbia available for public viewing, according to Dallas News. This is the first time that any of the remains of the Challenger or the Columbia have been publicly displayed.
Ever since Columbia’s disastrous reentry 12 years ago, the remnants of the shuttle have been kept out of the public eye. In an audacious and secretive process taking four years, NASA has removed a section of the fuselage which can now be viewed. NASA claims that much of the secrecy surrounding the project was an attempt to respect the lives and families of the astronauts who perished in these shuttles.
This exhibit, which opened quietly at the end of June, was the first opportunity June Scobee Rodgers had to see the shuttle in which her husband died. Rodgers says that despite being a sad reminder of the tragedy, the wreckage provides “a wonderful memorial,” while the collection of personal artifacts belonging to the deceased astronauts creates a “truly fitting” reminder. Scobee’s husband, Francis “Dick” Scobee, was the commander of the Challenger, and the display case includes the leather helmet from the Starduster biplane he and June used to fly.
NASA began this project determined to avoid commercialism or sensationalism, and hired Michael Ciannilli, to realize this goal.
“Our biggest concern the whole time was doing the right thing,” Ciannilli said. “Is this the right time? Is this the right thing?”
Evelyn Husband-Thompson, the widow of Columbia’s commander, seems to think he succeeded, saying “I can’t stop thinking about it . . .As you walk in, you know that you’re in a special place.”