Smithsonian Ponders Displaying Shuttle Wreckage

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

History isn't always pretty and now curators at the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum are pondering how to portray some of the space shuttle program's darkest moments. While the Space Shuttle Enterprise is already slated for display at the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles, a debate is ongoing as to how, and if, some remains of the Challenger and Columbia wreckage should be displayed. Until now, the museum has obscured these monumental, but unpleasant, occurrences with token mentions on small plaques. But it doesn't seem possible that a special space exhibit highlighting 22 years of shuttle flights can escape more honest treatment of the accidents that have claimed so many astronauts. Or can it? There's no shortage of artifacts. NASA houses wreckage from the two shuttle accidents and the charred remains of Apollo 1, and will meet with museum officials to chart the best course of action. The two entities have always conferred when selecting space artifacts for display. This is not the first time the museum has had to deal with the delicate balance of displaying special artifacts. In 1994, the museum encountered some resistance when displaying a piece of the Enola Gay, the B-29 used to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in World War II. On Monday, the museum unveiled the newly reassembled Enola Gay (click through for streaming video), which will form the centerpiece at the new Hazy Center.

NOTE: Our partner, AirsideTV, is currently broadcasting special NASM coverage, including interviews with NASM Director and Deputy Director Gen. Jack Dailey and Lt. Col. Don Lopez.