JSC and NASA had a tremendous story to tell. It did not have the place or the resources to tell it. Artifacts and models were displayed in the hallways of the JSC employee auditorium. Hal Stall, director of Public Affairs at JSC, likened it to “displaying the Hope diamond in a shoe box.” Stall wanted to provide real role models for youth, showing them that working hard in math and science classes could pay off with a career as a spacecraft designer or astronaut. And he wanted to do it without using tax dollars.
So Stall gathered leaders from JSC and the community and formed Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. Together, the group set out to provide a world-class facility where the public could come to touch the space program — and be touched by it.
The Foundation brought in the experts from Walt Disney Imagineering, the design and master planning arm of the Walt Disney Co. Using BRC Imagination Arts as a collaborating designer, Disney generated the concepts that would become Space Center Houston.
The Foundation sought support from corporations. Many companies backed the building of the Center by providing seed money. Finally, $68.4 million in tax-exempt bonds were sold to the public.
Modest admission fees would fund the daily operation of the Center. They would also support the Center’s extensive educational program, which now provides outreach to thousands of school children and teachers.
The construction team, headed by a joint venture of CRSS Sirrine and Linbeck, began construction of the facility. With Walt Disney lmagineering’s and BRC Imagination Arts’ concepts in hand, BRC Imagination Arts began production of the shows and displays. It would be a challenging task – the Center had to entertain and excite, but tell the true story of space in a realistic way.
The goal was a center that appeals on an emotional level as well as an intellectual one. A Center that reaches guests’ minds through their hearts.
The hands-on activities, films, exhibits and live shows do just that.