Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center

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Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is a museum and educational facility in Hutchinson, Kansas that is best known for the display and restoration of spaceflight artifacts and educational camps. It is one of only three museums to display flown spacecraft from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center grew from a planetarium established on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in 1962. The 105,000-square-foot (9,800 m 2) facility now houses the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow, and the second largest collection of space artifacts in the world, second only to the National Air and Space Museum. The Cosmosphere has four venues: The Hall of Space Museum, The Justice Planetarium, The Carey IMAX Dome Theatre, and Dr. Goddard's Lab, which is a live science presentation. The Cosmosphere also hosts a series of camps for children as young as those going into second grade, up to a camp designed for grandparents to attend with their grandchildren. The only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Kansas, the Cosmosphere was voted one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas in a 2008 national poll.

Included in the Cosmosphere's collection are an SR-71 Blackbird, the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft from Mercury 4 and the Odyssey command module from Apollo 13, as well as replioa Redstone and Titan II launch vehicles used in the Mercury and Gemini programs. A prized item on display is a moon rock from Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon. The Cosmosphere is the only museum in the world that has both an authentic restored V-1 flying bomb and an authentic restored V-2 missile. It is also the only museum outside of Russia that has an authentic, flown Vostok capsule. Nearly all of the vehicles, rockets, spacecraft, and spacesuits on display are either authentic or a "flight-ready backup," which is identical to the item actually flown: if a problem is detected in a spacecraft, rocket, or suit before it is flown, the backup fills in on the mission for the damaged item. The only replicated items in the Cosmosphere are the model of Glamorous Glennis, the Bell X-1 flown by Chuck Yeager, and the life-sized space shuttle replica that greets visitors. The Cosmosphere museum begins with the earliest experiments in rocketry during the World War II era, explores through the Space Race and Cold War, and continues through modern times with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Items on display
  • Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft, recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean
  • The Gemini X space capsule
  • The Apollo 13 command module Odyssey
  • An actual Apollo White Room
  • A replica of a Titan II rocket used in the Gemini program
  • A Russian Vostok space capsule
  • A replica of the X-1 flown by Chuck Yeager, Glamorous Glennis, used in the filming of The Right Stuff
  • An engine from Glamorous Glennis flown by Yeager
  • An X-15 rocket engine
  • A U.S. Air Force SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane
  • A backup version of the Vanguard 1 satellite
  • Moon rock collected during Apollo 11
  • A replica of the Mercury-Redstone rocket
  • Restored versions of World War II V-1 and V-2 rockets
  • Prototype and space-flown American and Russian spacesuits
  • The largest meteorite ever found in the U.S.
  • A full-scale mock-up of Space Shuttle Endeavour (left side only)
  • A section from the Berlin Wall - last section removed
  • A Lunar Rover
  • A Lunar Module
  • Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Craft
  • A copy of the sphere-shaped Soviet pennant flown on Luna 2
  • Piece of tile from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
  • A flight-ready backup for Sputnik 1

Restoration and replication
The Cosmosphere is the only location designated by the Smithsonian Institution (other than the Garber Facility in Maryland) to restore flown spacecraft. Two examples in the collection are the Apollo 13 Command Module, Odyssey, and the Liberty Bell 7. The Cosmsophere built much of the replicated spacecraft hardware seen in the movies Apollo 13 and Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D; and the TV mini-series From the Earth to the Moon. Liberty Bell 7 is actually owned by the Cosmosphere. It is the only flown spacecraft owned by a museum outside the National Air and Space Museum.

Stolen items
In November 2003, the Cosmosphere released a statement indicating that a routine audit had revealed many missing items from the museum. Over a year later, in April 2005, former Cosmosphere director Max Ary was charged with stealing artifacts from the museum's collection and selling the pieces for personal profit. Some of the missing items included a nose cone, silk screens, boot covers, nuts and bolts, an Air Force One control panel, and a tape of the Apollo 15 landing which Ary sold for $2,200.00. Additional charges involved the theft of dozens more artifacts from the Cosmosphere when he left in 2002, and false insurance claims made on the loss of an astronaut's Omega watch replica. Ary had also failed to notify NASA of the loss of the watch. Ary went on trial in 2004. He testified that the artifacts he sold were from his private collection which he had accumulated through undocumented trades and salvage of unwanted items. He also stated he had received numerous personal gifts from astronauts. Some of the items in question were supposedly brought with him from the Noble Planetarium in 1976 and incorporated into the Cosmosphere's permanent collection, and in many cases, ownership of artifacts could not be proved on Ary's behalf or the Cosmosphere's. Ary was found guilty on 12 counts. On May 15, 2006, he was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $132,000.00. In 2008 he lost his appeal, and began to serve his sentence in a federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma on April 24, 2008. Ary has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. He was released on good behavior in June 2010.

Building Activity

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