West Seattle-born NASA astronaut Greg Johnson will be returning to his home state June 30, but he’s bringing a little piece of NASA with him—the crew compartment of a full-scale space shuttle trainer. Johnson will pilot the cargo plane, NASA’s “Super Guppy,” carrying the shuttle cabin as it makes its way to its new home at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.
Though the shuttle is an identical model of a NASA orbiter, its June 30 flight will be about as close to space as it will ever get. The cabin has only been used as a training tool for NASA astronauts.
The gift is a bit of a consolation prize from NASA, as the Museum of Flight recently constructed a new gallery to house one of NASA’s now-retired shuttles. After the closure of NASA’s space shuttle program and the battle for NASA swag that ensued, the agency announced it would gift its handful of space shuttles to several fortunate museums nationwide.
The Museum of Flight’s efforts to land one of the shuttles ultimately failed to leave the ground.
Still, the incoming cabin is a welcomed addition at the Museum of Flight, and it is only the first piece of what Ted Huetter, public relations and promotions manager, said will eventually be a full-sized orbiter model. Half of the fuselage is scheduled to arrive in July, with the other half slated to cozy up to the rest of the ship some time in August. Projected deadline: Sept. 22.
“Nobody’s ever done this before,” Huetter said. A countdown for the ambitious completion of the shuttle model can be found here.
Though the shuttle won’t be completed until September, the museum, located at Boeing Field, is finding any reason to celebrate. The June 30 house warming party will begin with a ceremony next to the “Super Guppy” in the museum parking lot and will extend throughout the day with free tours and keynote addresses.
The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Here’s a complete schedule for the celebrations surrounding the shuttle trainer’s arrival:
The shuttle trainer celebration continues with ShuttleFest, a week of special activities, lectures and book signings, concluding with a big band dance party with the Harry James Orchestra on July 7.
Outdoor Aircraft Exhibit
NASA Super Guppy Cargo Plane
Sunday, July 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
NASA’s unique Super Guppy cargo plane will be on display in the Museum parking lot. NASA flight crew members will be on hand to answer questions.
Lecture by Shuttle Astronaut and Super Guppy Pilot Greg Johnson
Sunday, July 1, 2 p.m.
West Seattle native Greg Johnson will share his experiences as a NASA pilot and astronaut. Johnson will be the pilot-in-command during the Super Guppy shuttle trainer delivery flight from Houston to Seattle.
ShuttleFest Free Book Signings
July 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Ted Huetter, author of “Edwards Air Force Base.”
July 3, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sam Howe Verhovek, author of “Jet Age.”
July 6, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dr. Dean Hunter, author of “For Love of Life and Country.”
VFW Members Tell the Story of “The Twenty-Seven Flags”
Wednesday, July 4, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Members of Skyway Post 9430 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars honor the Nation’s 236th birthday with a salute to the American flag – all 27 versions that have officially represented the United States over the years.
American Fighter Aces Symposium
Saturday, July 7, 2 p.m.
Three combat pilots will share their experiences during this discussion. Panelists include Col. Abner Aust, Jr., a World War II Pacific Theater ace with eight aircraft destroyed.
Boogie Woogie Hangar Dance
July 7, 6 to 10 p.m.
The legendary Harry James Orchestra for a Big Band Hangar Dance featuring incomparable horn of Fred Radke and the captivating vocals of Gina Funes. Food and beverages available for purchase.Tickets available online or the day of the program. Members $25. General $30.