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Photos by April Blackmon
An example of the Thiokol XLR-99 Rocket Engine. Nicknamed the "Big Engine" it was perhaps the most advanced rocket engine in the world during the early days of space flight.


Space Out at Hutchinson Cosmosphere

By April Blackmon

It’s been 50 years since Sputnik first launched the world into the space age. In the past half-century, mankind has come a long way—walking on the moon, putting a space station into orbit and creating the reusable space shuttle. 

Chronicling the early history of the Space Age is the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, nestled in Hutchinson. Founded by Patricia Carey as the Hutchinson Planetarium, the Cosmosphere began in 1962 as a planetarium on the Kansas State Fair grounds. 

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The Cosmosphere features a variety of artifacts and information from around the world

The Hall of Space Museum boasts one of the mot significant collections of Russian and U.S. space artifacts in existence. In fact, the Cosmosphere houses the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow and the largest U.S. collection outside of the National Air and Space Museum.

Prized possessions include the famous Apollo 13 command module, a Vostok spacecraft, a T-38 astronaut training jet and more. 

The museum begins with the German Gallery and Hitler’s V-1 and V-2 rockets, which laid the foundation for space travel. The Cold War Gallery relives the story of the space race between the United States and the former Soviet Union, with examples of the Bell X-1 Rocket plane and Sputniks I and II.

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The Sonic Wind II Rocket Sled -- nicknamed the "Supersonic Torture Chair" illustrates some of the first U.S. steps in the space race.

The Early Space Flight Gallery collection includes a flown Gemini X spacecraft and the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury capsule. In the Apollo Gallery, visitors are treated to the actual Apollo 13 command module Odyssey, Apollo spacesuits and a scale model of the Saturn V rocket. 

Unique items on display include the 6 iron that Alan B. Shepard Jr. used to hit a golf ball on the Moon. 

The Cosmosphere also is home to an IMAX dome theater, the Justice Planetarium and Dr. Goodard’s Lab – a live science show named in honor of the father of modern rocketry.

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Parts of an Atlas Booster Engine help showcase early space flight.

More information is available at: http://www.cosmo.org/

 

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Last Updated December 31, 2007
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