A significant piece of American history, the Mercury spacecraft Liberty Bell 7, is coming to the Cosmosphere Innovation Space at Bluhawk starting in February 2019. This will be the early centerpiece of a new exhibition at the STEM-focused learning complex located in the center of Bluhawk.
Liberty Bell 7 was a part of Mercury-Redstone 4, the second manned spaceflight completed by the US in July 1961, and was piloted by astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom. The mission lasted 15 minutes and 30 seconds before landing in the Atlantic Ocean, where the hatch cover, designed to release explosively in the event of an emergency, accidentally blew. Luckily, Grissom escaped the spacecraft successfully, however, due to the prematurely jettisoned hatch, the Liberty Bell 7 flooded and was lost to the Atlantic.
The Hutchinson Cosmosphere assisted with the location and recovery of Liberty Bell 7 in 1999, with restoration and preservation of the spacecraft completed by its SpaceWorks division. This recovery mission is one of many NASA restoration projects in which the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center SpaceWorks program has been involved.
The Liberty Bell 7 temporary exhibit will give guests of Bluhawk a chance to better understand history and the role Mercury missions and astronauts like Gus Grissom played in helping the United States win the Space Race. The Smithsonian-affiliated Cosmosphere Innovation Space will leverage the crowds that Bluhawk will generate in its first phase, including visitors to Bluhawk Sports Park scheduled to break ground in 2019 and open the following year.
“We are very pleased that Overland Park residents and visitors will have an early look at this historic exhibit and others. Providing unique opportunities to shop, dine and experience is the foundation upon which Bluhawk is built,” said Doug Price, President, Price Brothers Management Company, the developers of Bluhawk. “This new exhibition is a great venue for Cosmosphere to test new ideas while we are developing extensive plans for its new satellite location.”
The Cosmosphere Innovation Center at Bluhawk is set to open in phase 2 of the mixed-use development project and will bring world-class, hands-on, interactive educational experiences to Kansas City.