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Forum:Free Space
Topic:Coney Island's Astroland Moon Rocket
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It sometimes feels as if New York has been bidding farewell to old Coney Island for as long as there has been a Boardwalk. With almost every change, its raucous spirit is diminished. Yet then it somehow keeps staggering on.

But as death knells go, the removal this week of the Astroland Park rocket is right up there.

...the Astroland rocket -- a k a the Star Flyer, the Cape Canaveral Satellite Jet and/or the Astroland Moon Rocket -- a 71-foot, 12,000-pound aluminum tube that once seated 26 earthbound lunar explorers for a three-minute simulated blastoff.

"It has this iconic importance," said Charles Denson, executive director and co-founder of the Coney Island History Project and the author of "Coney Island: Lost and Found." "When Astroland opened in 1962, it represented this optimism. It was the beginning of the space race. There was a lot of excitement about space travel. The rocket was the first piece in Astroland and it set the tone for the space-age theme park."

...the New York City Economic Development Corporation confirmed the city's interest in the artifact in a statement on Friday, but did not go too much further: "Astroland's rocket ship is an important part of Coney's past and we hope that it will remain in Coney Island for generations to come. As for storing or moving the rocket, the city doesn't comment on ongoing negotiations."

For now, the rocket sits forlornly, its nose tilted toward the moon.

As noted in the article, the Curbed blog has additional photographs and video of the rocket's removal.
Lou ChinalI was 12 years old in 1962 when I frist flew the 'Star Flyer'. I remember it being very loud. Oh well another dream in storage.
Robert PearlmanThe Astroland Moon Rocket became the property of the city in January, such that it will eventually be displayed as a symbol of Coney Island.

Another icon from the park has been transferred to the Smithsonian.

...the 8-foot-high lighted star from Coney Island's now closed space-age theme park, Astroland, will join the museum's popular culture collection where it will be housed along other science fiction icons such as the Star Trek starship Enterprise. The Star will go on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center after construction of Phase Two of the center is completed in 2011.

The Star -- donated by Carol Hill Albert and Jerome Albert, owners of the former Astroland Park and current operators of Coney Island's Cyclone roller coaster -- served as a symbolic representation of Astroland's space-age theme. The two spinning stars at the entrance on Surf Avenue were installed in 1963, at the height of the space race, and welcomed visitors for nearly half a century to the world-renowned Astroland amusement park.

"The National Air and Space Museum is delighted to receive this important popular culture artifact into the national collection," said Margaret A. Weitekamp, curator in the Division of Space History. "Astroland embodied the widespread excitement about human spaceflight in the early 1960s. Having a Star from the Astroland gateway, where thousands of people passed to enjoy this entertaining vision of the space age, is a wonderful example of that space craze."

Photo credit: Coney Island History Project
Robert PearlmanThe New York Times reports that Jerome Albert, who with his father, Dewey, created and operated Astroland, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 74.
Astroland — with its looping rockets, moon-flight simulations, rider-drenching water coaster and 272-foot observation tower — was opened by the Alberts in 1962 on a 3.1-acre site at West 10th Street and Surf Avenue. Over the next 46 years, Astroland sponsored air shows, precision parachute-team jumps, rock concerts, film festivals and fireworks displays...

By 1964, construction of most of the rides at Astroland was complete. There was the John Glenn Sky Ride, whose blue space capsules circled overhead, swooping between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk. Another ride, Astroland Rocket, simulated a trip to the moon, using film images of space flight. The Deep Sea Diving Bells were submerged in a water tank among swirling dolphins. In the Water Flume, riders were drenched while strapped into imitation logs that sped through a trough.

And there was the Astrotower, with its two-story circular observation car. The New York World Telegram & Sun dubbed it “The big bagel in the sky.” Except for the Cyclone, which is now operated by another company under a contract with the city, only the Astrotower still stands.

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