Pathfinder Space Shuttle Receives $500k “Save America’s Treasures” Grant

The National Park Service has awarded a “Save America’s Treasures” grant to the US Space & Rocket Centre for the conservation of the Space Shuttle Pathfinder.
Image credit: NASA

A NASA space shuttle mockup that was utilised for testing and fitting has received a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service. The mockup is displayed at the US Space & Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

In an August 20 press release, the National Park Service (NPS) announced it had awarded $12,8 million in “Save America’s Treasures” grants. In addition to 41 other preservation and conservation projects from 26 states, the NPS revealed that it had awarded $500,000 to the US Space & Rocket Centre for the conservation of the Space Shuttle Pathfinder.

The Pathfinder mockup was built in 1977 out of wood and steel to simulate the size and weight of a space shuttle orbiter. It was designed to test procedures and facilities in scenarios where NASA preferred not to use the more delicate and expensive Space Shuttle Enterprise.

In the early 1980s, the mockup was loaned to the America-Japan Society as part of the Great Space Shuttle Exposition in Tokyo. The mockup was then modified to more closely resemble an actual space shuttle at a cost of $1 million. Once complete, Pathfinder acted as the centerpiece of the expo from June 1982 to August 1984.

After the expo, Pathfinder was returned to the Marshall Space Flight Center. The mockup finally found a permanent home at the US Space & Rocket Centre. It was mounted to a special platform with the Main Propulsion Test Article External Tank, which was used for early tanking tests, and two prototype solid rocket boosters completing a full-stack. It is currently the only full-stack display of a space shuttle launch vehicle in the world.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.