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News Center Albums » Independence Plaza Photos

Interactive exhibits

Visitors enjoy learning inside the shuttle carrier

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 the exhibits inside the shuttle carrier aircraft

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 tour the payload bay of Independence

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 look through the airlock

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 the UK visit Independence Plaza

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.
UK students watch a video inside the shuttle carrier aircraft

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.
Guests can tour the historic shuttle carrier aircraft

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

Independence Plaza now open

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.
Independence Plaza now boarding

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.
Exterior of shuttle carrier craft shows number of ferry flights made

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.
Attach orbiter here. Note: Black side down. NASA's sense of humor.

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."
Independence Plaza steel tower

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.
Steel tower at Independence Plaza

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.
Independence Plaza is the only exhibit in the world of its kind

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.
Guests can also walk around and under the shuttle

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

Historic grand opening of Independence Plaza

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.
Opening remarks of the grand opening

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.
U.S. Coast Guard presents the colors at grand opening

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.
RE/MAX skydivers carry the American flag over opening ceremony

Visitors gazed at RE/MAX skydivers carrying the American flag over the opening ceremony at Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
RE/MAX skydivers soar above grand opening ceremony

Visitors gazed at RE/MAX skydivers soaring through the sky over the opening ceremony at Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
U.S. Coast Guard presented the colors at grand opening

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.
RE/MAX skydivers carried American Flag

Visitors gazed at RE/MAX skydivers carrying the American flag over the opening ceremony at Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Grand opening of 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.
Crowd gathered to witness historic grand opening of Independence Plaza

Space fans of all generations came out to watch the spectacular grand opening of Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing.
Fireworks light up the sky to mark the historic grand opening

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.
Fireworks and streamers mark the grand opening of Independence Plaza

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.
News media outlets covered historic grand opening of landmark exhibit

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.
First guests visit Independence Plaza

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 make history as first guests to witness new landmark exhibit

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.
Grand opening marked a day chalked full of fun festivities

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.
First visitors to walk through Independence Plaza

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.
Panel discussion at grand opening of Independence Plaza

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.
Visitors listen to panel discussions at Independence Plaza grand opening

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.
Guests took home astronaut autographs at Independence Plaza grand opening

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.
Guests got to meet astronauts and take home autographs at grand opening celebration

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

Steel tower at 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.
The engines are attached to the shuttle carrier aircraft

Specialized crews attached the engines to the first shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905.
Visitors can walk through the shuttle replica and shuttle carrier aircraft

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 exhibit comes to life, thanks to hundreds of supporters

The construction of Independence Plaza was no small feat. Hundreds of supporters were critical in making the exhibit complex come to life.
Independence Plaza construction

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 Rise of Independence

Shuttle is placed atop the shuttle carrier aircraft

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.
The shuttle's new name, Independence, is unveiled

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 shuttle carrier aircraft travels from Ellington to Space Center Houston

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 Big Move of the shuttle carrier aircraft from Ellington to the center

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 watch the

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

The shuttle carrier aircraft is dismantled

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 is handed over

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

Independence arrives by barge in Galveston Bay on its way to the center

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 traveled from KSC to Space Center Houston, where it resides today

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 shuttle arrives and the city of Houston throws a

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.

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