Houston, TX, USA /BUSINESS WIRE/– Officials with Space Center Houston, the visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC), today announced the winning entry in the “Name the Shuttle” contest during a public christening ceremony. The full-scale Space Shuttle replica will now be known as “Independence,” a name that fittingly symbolizes the spirit of Texas and its unique characteristics. The replica will eventually sit atop the massive 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) as part of a new $12 million, six-story attraction currently under development.
“We received a total of 10,263 entries from all across Texas, and our elite panel of judges sorted through a widespread collection of possibilities,” said Richard Allen, president of Space Center Houston. “It was a tough decision, but we ultimately chose a name that celebrates the Lone Star State and highlights its distinct contribution to America’s Space Shuttle Program.”
The winner, Tim Judd of Kingwood, was present for the unveiling ceremony and helped reveal the new moniker. Judd, 29, will have his name and hometown incorporated onto a placard at the exhibit, once construction is completed. He was also awarded a multi-day trip for four to Space Center Houston, which includes a VIP tour of the facility, a behind-the-scenes experience at NASA-JSC, hotel accommodations, meals and travel compensation.
“When I first heard about the ‘Name the Shuttle’ contest, ‘Independence’ was the first thought to pop into my mind,” Judd said. “This concept is important, not just to the State of Texas, but to all Americans. We enjoy freedom every day, constantly striving for a greater sense of independence. It was that exact mindset that brought the settlers here in the first place and what drives explorers into space today.”
The state-of-the-art Space Shuttle attraction is slated to open in 2015 and will be unique to Space Center Houston. It will be the only place in the world where guests can climb aboard the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and the Shuttle replica to experience the 30-year Space Shuttle program in the most dynamic, hands-on environment imaginable.
“The Shuttle was a fantastic spacecraft. Visitors from around the world will have the unparalleled opportunity to explore this vehicle through the eyes of an astronaut, creating a truly unique Shuttle experience,” said Chris Ferguson, STS-135 shuttle commander, who spoke at the event. “Space Center Houston will be the only place in the world where visitors will be able to see the Shuttle ‘piggyback’ on one of the authentic carrier airplanes. It’s most fitting that this magnificent combination will live its second career as a learning tool, inspiring generations to come.”