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  St. Louis Science Center and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium

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Author Topic:   St. Louis Science Center and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-31-2008 05:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mercury spacecraft #19 went on display today at the Saint Louis Science Center's McDonnell Planetarium, alongside Gemini 3A. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:
It was a homecoming of sorts: It's back in St. Louis, where it was built by McDonnell Douglas along with the other 19 capsules. Since then, the capsule, built in 1962, has done stints in Houston's Johnson Space Center, in a Swiss museum, and at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Gregg E. Maryniak, director of the McDonnell Planetarium, said the arrival of the Mercury capsule is another opportunity to showcase St. Louis' special place in aeronautics history, and the importance of space technology today.

"We have cell phones and PDAs because of space technology so space technology has a larger impact on us today than in 1962," Maryniak said.

The National Air and Space Museum's collection database describes capsule #19 as:
Mercury capsule #19 was one of twenty spacecraft built for the first American human spaceflight project, which aimed to put a man in orbit. Sent to the launch site, Cape Canaveral, on March 20, 1962, it became the back-up spacecraft for the Mercury-Atlas flight (MA-8) of Walter M. Schirra, who made 6 orbits of the Earth on October 3, 1962. Thereafter the mission for #19 was canceled and parts were used on other Mercury projects. In early 1968, NASA Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) gave this vehicle to the Smithsonian.
Mercury capsule #19 was previously on display at the Swiss Museum of Transport & Communication in Lucerne, Switzerland. Photo: Smithsonian

Mr Meek
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Posts: 348
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 07-31-2008 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Neat. Ms Meek happens to be in St Louis visiting her family. I'll see if she's able to get over there and snap some photos of the new display.

We saw Gemini 3A there last year. Glad to see St Louis gets a "matched pair", as it were.

mercsim
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Posts: 138
From: Phoenix, AZ
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 08-04-2008 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey this is good news! Back in the USA. Looks like I need to schedule a trip. It was an excuse to go to Switzerland but it will be much cheaper and more convenient to do this.

Scott

mikej
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Posts: 374
From: Germantown, WI USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 08-08-2008 06:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mercsim:
Looks like I need to schedule a trip.

Don't pack your bags just yet.

Just back from a vacation which included a stop to visit Gemini 3A (left for the vacation several days before Robert's original posting, so the Mercury's presence was a complete surprise).

The area with the two spacecraft is currently closed off; they're re-doing the exhibit area. Luckily, one of the staff allowed me to enter the area and take photographs. I'll post a couple of pictures of its new (temporary) home once things settle down.

Among the Mercury-related items they received in conjunction with the spacecraft include an antenna cannister and a crew couch.

Lou Chinal
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Posts: 946
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 08-08-2008 06:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just as a point of information, the retro-pack is in Silver Hill Md.

-Lou

Mr Meek
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Posts: 348
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 08-08-2008 07:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mikej:
The area with the two spacecraft is currently closed off; they're re-doing the exhibit area.

What part of the museum are they in? Gemini 3A used to sit downstairs, near the animatronic dinosaurs. Have the pair gotten a more auspicious location?

mikej
Member

Posts: 374
From: Germantown, WI USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 08-08-2008 12:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mr Meek:
What part of the museum are they in? Gemini 3A used to sit downstairs, near the animatronic dinosaurs. Have the pair gotten a more auspicious location?

They're on the other side of the freeway, in the lobby of the planetarium. You'll go through a long walk-way after you cross the freeway with various space- and aviation-related displays (including a lot of Space Ship One stuff).

Gemini 3A's apparently been there for at least a couple of months. (SLSC's web site didn't have any mention of the Gemini, so I called when I was originally planning the vacation to verify that it was still there. I was told at that time that it was in the planetarium's lobby.)

I forgot to mention above that they also have a Gus Grissom Mercury training suit. Based on how "permanent" its display looked, I'd guess that it had been there for a while.

A short distance away from the Mercury and Gemini is a full-size replica of Space Ship One.

Mr Meek
Member

Posts: 348
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 08-08-2008 12:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, that's good. I was there a little over a year ago, and was thoroughly surprised to round a corner and walk face-first into a real Gemini. I'm glad they have it displayed in a more appropriate context.

AFGAS
Member

Posts: 89
From: Merritt Island, FL
Registered: Feb 2008

posted 08-08-2008 03:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AFGAS   Click Here to Email AFGAS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lou Chinal:
Just as a point of information, the retro-pack is in Silver Hill Md.
Like this one?

Mr Meek
Member

Posts: 348
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 11-28-2008 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are some pictures of the new display at the St Louis Science Center's McDonnell Planetarium. The lighting is very low, and it can be difficult to take photographs without causing unwanted reflections.

Jim, as always, you're welcome to pop any of these up on the Field Guide.

Mr Meek
Member

Posts: 348
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 11-28-2008 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Note the lack of control panel. The couch is displayed at the rear of the capsule.

I do have closeups of the two tags on the couch, if anyone is interested.

Mr Meek
Member

Posts: 348
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 11-30-2008 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And here are a few of Gemini 3A.

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 946
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 11-30-2008 11:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would be nice if we could get all the parts together. Install the couch, fit the retro pack on. I've built an instrument panel before (Cradle of Aviation). I think I have a few spair parts. I'm sure that myself and a few others of this forum would volunteer there time.

-Lou

AFGAS
Member

Posts: 89
From: Merritt Island, FL
Registered: Feb 2008

posted 12-01-2008 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AFGAS   Click Here to Email AFGAS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Jon - these are a nice update!

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