Shuttle Independence mounted on NASA 747 in Houston

Author: Ryan Korsgard, Click2Houston

A piece of NASA history got an adornment Thursday morning. A giant crane lifted the space shuttle replica Independence onto Space Center Houston’s shuttle carrier aircraft.

It was the final liftoff for the Space Shuttle Independence. The replica will now sit atop the Boeing 747, a shuttle carrier aircraft that carried the space shuttle back to Florida when they landed far from Florida’s Space Coast.

The 747 was supposed to be used for spare parts. Then the director of the Johnson Space Center, who is a former astronaut, got involved and landed it here.

The inside of the 747 will serve as a high-flying classroom at Space Center Houston, the visitor center for JSC. The aircraft and the orbiter mockup will offer a look at how astronauts lived in space aboard the shuttle.

Space Center Houston is the only place in the world where you can see a shuttle stacked atop a 747. While Houston had hoped to bring one of the remaining shuttles here, officials remind us that you will be able to go inside, touch and experience space — an experience that even the real shuttles can’t offer because they are closed up on display, locked up inside museums.

Earlier this year, crews spent days carefully moving the modified jumbo jet from Ellington Field to its new home at the space center.

Space Center Houston still needs to raise $2 million to complete the project. The exhibit is expected to open in 2015 with access to the 747 and the orbiter mockup.

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