Independence Plaza Photos

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Interactive exhibits

Visitors Marisa Garcia and Kevin Tamez of San Antonio, Texas, have fun learning how wind affects the load of the shuttle when mounted on top of the shuttle carrier aircraft in the interacitve wind tunnel display inside Space Center Houston’s newest exhibit Independence Plaza.
Guests interact with one of seven hands-on exhibits inside the historic shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA) NASA 905. This exhibit demonstrates the challenges NASA overcame to get the SCA and shuttles off the ground by allowing guests to practice mating and de-mating the two in a scale model.
Guests touring the payload bay of the shuttle replica Independence admire an actual flown artifact from STS-49, a satellite rescue mission in which three people from the same spacecraft walked in space at the same time.
Visitors Odel Thomas of Houston, Texas, and Gayland Garcia of Amityville, New York, look through the airlock from the mid-deck of the shuttle replica Independence which is part of the nonprofit Space Center Houston’s newest exhibit, Independence Plaza. See where a shuttle would dock with the International Space Station and learn about the legacy of the Space Shuttle Program.
Students from Uckfield Community Technology College in the United Kingdom and Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men in Houston interact with one of seven hands-on exhibits inside the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905. This exhibit demonstrates demonstrates one of many challenges NASA overcame to get the shuttle carrier aircraft and shuttle off the ground and allows guests to practice mating and de-mating the two in a scale model.
Students from Uckfield Community Technology College in the United Kingdom and Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men in Houston watch a short video celebrating the Space Shuttle Program inside the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905.
When Independence Plaza opens Jan. 23, guests will be able to tour the inside of the massive shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905. The exhibits inside walk guests through the Space Shuttle Program and the history of the shuttle carrier aircraft project including NASA 905s history.

Complex Exterior

The new international landmark Independence Plaza is now boarding. It is the world’s only shuttle replica mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft and the only place where visitors can enter both vehicles.
The new international landmark Independence Plaza is now boarding. It is the world’s only shuttle replica mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft and the only place where visitors can enter both vehicles.
Visitors will see the number of ferry flights completed by the historic shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905 printed on the exterior of the plane. NASA 905 completed a majority of the missions delivering NASA space shuttles to their final locations.
Not only will guests see Space Center Houston’s newest international landmark when Independence Plaza opens Jan. 23, but also guests will see a prime example of NASA’s sense of humor. On the portion of the shuttle carrier aircraft that connects to space shuttles, guests will see a message printed in small blue and red lettering: “Attach orbiter here. Note: Black side down.”
The Independence Plaza steel tower takes visitors up an elevator and into both the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence and the first shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905.
The Independence Plaza steel tower is six stories tall. Connecting the shuttle carrier aircraft and shuttle replica to the tower required years of planning and innovation.
The nonprofit Space Center Houston opens the new international landmark Independence Plaza on Jan. 23. It is the world’s only shuttle replica mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft and the only place where the public will be able to enter both.
When Independence Plaza opens on Jan. 23, guests will be able to move freely around the grounds of Independence Plaza including underneath the shuttle carrier aircraft.

The making of Independence Plaza

Download high resolution versions of the images below.

Grand Opening

Years in the making, the extraordinary day themed “Mission Accomplished” welcomed visitors from all over the world to be a part of the historic opening of Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Richard Allen Jr., president and CEO for Space Center Houston, kicked off the opening remarks and spoke about the new Independence Plaza and how it will inspire children to think about a possible career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard presented the colors before a large crowd gathered for the grand opening complete with astronauts, skydivers and fireworks.
Visitors gazed at RE/MAX skydivers carrying the American flag over the opening ceremony at Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Visitors gazed at RE/MAX skydivers soaring through the sky over the opening ceremony at Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
The U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard presented the colors before a large crowd gathered for the grand opening complete with astronauts, skydivers and fireworks.
Visitors gazed at RE/MAX skydivers carrying the American flag over the opening ceremony at Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Space fans of all generations came out to watch the spectacular grand opening of Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Space fans of all generations came out to watch the spectacular grand opening of Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
A dazzling fireworks show lit up the morning to mark the grand opening of the newest international landmark, Independence Plaza, presented by Boeing. Set around the magnificent new exhibit complex, the day kicked off with an exciting opening ceremony and a T-10 countdown to celebrate the monumental day.
A dazzling fireworks show with streamers and beautiful colors lit up the morning sky to mark the grand opening of the newest international landmark, Independence Plaza, presented by Boeing. Set around the magnificent new exhibit complex, the day kicked off with an exciting opening ceremony and a T-10 countdown to celebrate the monumental day.
Many news media outlets covered the historic opening of the newest international landmark, Independence Plaza, presented by Boeing. The nonprofit transformed with a full day of activities, including RE/MAX skydivers, astronauts and fireworks, to celebrate and honor America’s space program.
Visitors took their first steps inside the exhibit complex and entered both the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905 and the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence on Jan. 23.
Visitors came out to be a part of history as some of the first to go inside the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905 and the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence.
The festivities continued throughout the day with activities for the whole family. Visitors had fun with hands-on space-related educational activities, met astronauts, watched a space movie and went inside Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Space fans of all generations came out to be a part of history as some of the first people to go inside Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Astronaut Ken Cameron and Frank Marlow, a former NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft pilot, talked about their roles in the Space Shuttle Program during a panel discussion at the grand opening Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
During three panel discussions, visitors gathered to hear about the rich history of the shuttle program and the exciting future of aerospace from the pioneers of human space exploration. Among the panelists were astronauts, a shuttle carrier aircraft pilot and leaders in aerospace.
Visitors took home the ultimate souvenir during astronaut autograph signings with Anne McClain, Ken Cameron and Jerry Ross as a part of the grand opening activities of Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Visitors took home the ultimate souvenir during astronaut autograph signings with Anne McClain, Ken Cameron and Jerry Ross as a part of the grand opening activities of Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Download high resolution versions of the grand opening images above.

Construction of Independence Plaza

The steel tower takes visitors up an elevator and into both the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence and the first shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905.
Specialized crews attached the engines to the first shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905.
Visitors can now enter an unprecedented experience though the steel tower and go inside both the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence and the first shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905.
The construction of Independence Plaza was no small feat. Hundreds of supporters were critical in making the exhibit complex come to life.
The construction of a steel tower was an integral part of the multi-level exhibit complex that takes visitors up an elevator and into both the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence and the first shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905.
The one-of-a-kind exhibit complex, Independence Plaza, features the first shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905 and the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence.

The Rise of Independence

The shuttle was lifted to its permanent home atop Space Center Houston’s historic shuttle carrier aircraft at a public event called the “Rise of Independence.” The shuttle replica was renamed Independence in a public contest in 2013.
Workers on lifts unveiled the shuttle’s new name, Independence. The high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence now sits atop the first shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905, in a one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibit Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza.

The Big Move

The first shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA), NASA 905, captivated the world when it made the journey from Houston’s Ellington Airport to Space Center Houston. In an event dubbed “The Big Move,” the SCA traveled nearly eight miles over the course of two nights.
The first shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA), NASA 905, captivated the world when it made the journey from Houston’s Ellington Airport to Space Center Houston. In an event dubbed “The Big Move,” the SCA traveled nearly eight miles over the course of two nights.
Thousands of people lined the streets to watch the “Big Move” of the dissembled shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA), NASA 905, journey to Space Center Houston. The 747 was reassembled and the space shuttle replica Independence was mounted in the ferry configuration on top of the SCA.

747 Disassembly and handover

Disassembly of the 747
The jumbo jet was dismantled into seven major loads. Once reassembled, it moved during an event dubbed “The Big Move.”
The 747 Handover
The shuttle carrier aircraft is the largest intact artifact from the shuttle program and played key roles in the orbiter’s development.

Shuttlebration

The shuttle replica arrived by barge into Galveston Bay and through the streets of Houston to its final home at Space Center Houston. Independence, formerly known as Explorer, is a full-scale, high fidelity shuttle replica.
Independence is a full-scale, high fidelity shuttle replica. It was previously displayed at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and moved to Space Center Houston in 2012.
The arrival of the shuttle replica captivated the world. Known as “Shuttlebration,” people from all over the city came out to watch the orbiter arrive at Space Center Houston.