Adler: 'Shuttle would have been a game changer'

NASA passes over the Chicago planetarium's bid to host space shuttle

April 12, 2011

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(WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)
Adler staff and visitors watch the NASA announcement live on a movie screen.

Disappointment today at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, as the museum was snubbed in its bid to host one of the retiring space shuttles.

The Adler piped the NASA announcement live into its 3-D Universe Theater. The assembled crowd offered polite applause as the winning institutions were announced: museums in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC and Florida.

Adler president Paul Knappanberger offered congratulations, though said he was a bit perplexed by the New York museum’s success. He says it’s a missed opportunity for the planetarium.

“A shuttle would have been a game changer, I think,” he told reporters. “It’s a national treasure, it’s an icon of American achievement. I don’t think any other artifact approaches that icon status.”

The Adler is expected to get one of those other artifacts as a consolation prize -- the shuttle flight simulator used to train NASA astronauts. It’s reportedly three stories tall and replicates the shuttle’s crew compartment. Knappenberger called it the “next best thing,” and said the museum will likely build a new enclosure to hold it.

Knappenberger says the failed shuttle campaign was funded almost completely with donated money and services.