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2012 Road Trip Photos #34: the Kansas Cosmosphere, Part 1 of 2: Starship Graveyard

Once we returned from the Underground Salt Museum to the surface world, Day Eight of our nine-day journey continued on the other end of Hutchinson at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. Our family has seen space-race paraphernalia in other museums such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (2003), Kennedy Space Center (2007), and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (2009), but the Cosmosphere competes in its own way, particularly with souvenirs from foreign contributors to the space race. Kansas seems like the last place on Earth you’d find a dedicated repository for cosmonaut relics, but there it was.

Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

Astronaut greeter sculpture bids you welcome, asks you to keep your imaginations open and your complaints about NASA’s current budget to yourself.

astronaut sculpture, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

The exhibits begin even before you pay admission. The enormous lobby holds a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird and a facsimile of the left side of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The Cosmosphere is no measly collection of photos and miniatures.

Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

This Titan II rocket is quartered in an outdoor enclosure equipped with subwoofers simulating the roar and rumbling of takeoff, with none of the messy flames and killer smoke.

Titan II, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

Bridging the gap between the American and Russian exhibits is this backup from the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. It was never flown, but is no less real.

Apollo-Soyuz, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

This test version of the Viking I Lander theoretically could’ve weather the trip to Mars if only someone would’ve let it.

Mars Viking I Test Lander, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

Less airworthy is this model of the Glamorous Glennis, the Bell X-1 craft in which he-man Chuck Yeager became the first human to pass Mach 1.

Glamorous Glennis model, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

Sonic Wind II was a rocket sled used in the late 1950s for testing purposes, captained at various times by chimpanzees and dummies.

Sonic Wind II rocket sled, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

At the smaller end of the spacecraft spectrum is the Vanguard I, America’s answer to Sputnik. The first solar-powered satellite has remained in Earth’s orbit for over fifty years, while this backup version remains in captivity.

Vanguard I, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

To be continued!

[New readers and completists: be sure to check out the 2012 Road Trip checklist for the ultimate reading guide, still in progress. You can also add your name to the new MCC Facebook page to receive notifications of new posts (if you know the proper workaround) and lend your voice and support to MCC in general. Thanks for reading!]

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About Randall A. Golden
Hoosier since birth, geek since age 6, father at 22, Christian at 30; launched Midlife Crisis Crossover at 39. Full-time service rep; part-time internet contributor; former message board admin; inhabits Twitter as @RandallGolden. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of any other corporation, being, or party line.

2 Responses to 2012 Road Trip Photos #34: the Kansas Cosmosphere, Part 1 of 2: Starship Graveyard

  1. I would have been sitting out in the car or asked to be let off at a shopping center til my hubby was done looking at that stuff LOL

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    • I know the feeling! Some of our other stops were more for my wife than for myself. Unfortunately, the one major shopping mall in Hutchinson (across from our hotel, in fact) was, as I understand it, nearly deserted and dead. Kind of a shame.

      Like

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