KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – “The Lost Spacecraft: Liberty Bell 7 Recovered,” a new interactive 6,000-square-foot traveling exhibit of the 1961 Mercury space capsule recovered in July 1999 during a Discovery Channel expedition, began its three-year journey across the nation on June 17, 2000 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Fla.

The second manned space mission for the United States, Liberty Bell 7 was flown in 1961 by astronaut and U.S. Air Force Captain Virgil “Gus” Grissom on a mission that lasted 15 minutes and 37 seconds before sinking to the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, where it lay undetected for nearly four decades. Now, the newly restored capsule will travel with this new Discovery Channel-sponsored exhibit to science centers and museums in 12 cities throughout the United States (see attached exhibit schedule).

Created in partnership with BBH, Inc. of San Antonio, TX, “Liberty Bell 7 Recovered” will take science center and museum visitors on a virtual ride with Grissom 118 miles into space and then 3 miles below the ocean’s surface where the capsule sat untouched. “Liberty Bell 7 Recovered” will engage visitors in astronaut training, spacecraft technology and launch sequences circa 1961. It then fast-forwards to 1999 to follow the exciting events surrounding the rescue of the spacecraft and personal triumph by deep-sea search and recovery expert Curt Newport and his expedition team.

“Discovery Channel is proud to be a part of this next step with the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule and to present this historical exhibit to families across the country,” says Mike Quattrone, executive vice president and general manager, Discovery Channel. “Those who remembered the period when the world stood still to watch a Mercury launch will marvel at the memories the exhibit evokes, while people of all ages will be fascinated with this engaging piece of history.”

Interactive elements of the exhibit

Several interactive stations make this museum experience on early space flight something to remember.

What’s it like to fly into space? A capsule simulator invites visitors to climb in the pilot’s seat of this tiny spacecraft and perform a pre-flight task.
Less than half of the test launches of early rockets were successful. A rocket interactive allows visitors to look through a periscope and select from a series of rocket launch videos and discover each rocket’s fate.
Early astronauts were tested to determine their response to powerful G-forces experienced during the mission. Adults and children alike will climb into a real-life centrifuge and test themselves against the grit of astronauts in a main attraction in the exhibit.
Through an interactive joystick control, visitors will maneuver a small helicopter model and attempt to recover a miniature version of the Liberty Bell 7.
Parents will be able to experience this exciting treasure hunt with their children.

The exhibit offers a remarkable re-creation of the recovery ship Ocean Project’s deck, where they can peek into the recovery team’s daily log as it appeared on the Internet during the expedition.
Another interactive feature allows visitors to conduct a virtual interview with Newport to discover why he pursued this adventure and what technology was necessary to achieve success.
The amazing interactive Remote Operated Vehicle element, complete with robot arms and cameras, invites kids and parents to test their underwater piloting skills just like the explorers who found the Liberty Bell 7 on the ocean floor… more than 3 miles below the surface.
Via computer, visitors can use custom software that was developed to help identify sonar images of unknown objects miles beneath the ocean’s surface. This high-tech software creates a video image from the rough sonar data. The visitor may select one of a number of images within a grid and then discover the object’s identity.

A lesson in time and space

The story of Liberty Bell 7 and the adventure surrounding its resurrection are part trip down memory lane, part lesson in patriotism, a salute to technological achievement and an affirmation of the strength of the human spirit. “Liberty Bell 7 Recovered” plunges visitors into the Cold War era in which the United States competed with the Soviet Union in a race to the moon and contrasts that environment with the state-of-the-art technology that in 1999 enabled explorers to raise the capsule.

Most significantly, the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule itself will be displayed. This symbol of American determination and ingenuity greets the public after 38 years under water. Visitors see the spacecraft as Grissom left it and as Newport and his team found it after nearly four decades on the ocean floor.

The exhibit allows visitors to enter into lifelike environments complete with the sights and sounds associated with:

The era. A family living room circa 1961, just like the ones in which millions of Americans sat riveted to their televisions as astronauts rocketed into space, welcomes visitors as they enter. They experience the sights, sounds and sociopolitical climate of the time via video, vintage publications and period artifacts.
The flight of the Liberty Bell 7, featuring actual audio and video accounts of Grissom and the other astronauts of the Mercury Program and NASA footage.
Mission Control as it appeared in 1961.

A splashdown theater complete with a partial replica of the Sikorsky recovery helicopter, whose window provides a view of the actual attempt to rescue the capsule.
A replica of the deck of the recovery expedition ship, Ocean Project, where visitors will see the technology that made recovery possible.
Listening, Looking, Locating and Lifting kiosks that take visitors on a step-by-step tour of the technology that allowed the recovery team to pinpoint the capsule’s location and raise it from its 38-year resting place on the ocean floor.
A tribute to Grissom, the man who many called “the astronaut’s astronaut.”
Discovery Channel is one of the United States’ two largest cable television networks, serving 78 million households across the nation with the finest in informative entertainment. Discovery Networks, a division of Discovery Communications, Inc., operates and manages Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery People, Discovery Kids Channel, Discovery Science Channel, Discovery Home & Leisure Channel, Discovery Civilization Channel, Discovery Wings Channel, and Discovery en Espanol. The unit also markets and distributes BBC America. The restoration was conducted by The Smithsonian affiliated Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas, which will serve as the permanent home for the capsule after its three-year nationwide tour.

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The Lost Spacecraft: Liberty Bell 7 Recovered

Exhibit Schedule

The Lost Spacecraft: Liberty Bell 7 Recovered, an interactive, traveling exhibit from Discovery Channel, will be presented at the following venues (dates and venues are subject to change):

June 17, 2000 – September 17, 2000 Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Kennedy Space Center, Fla

October 7, 2000 – January 7, 2001 The Children’s Museum, Indianapolis, IN

January 27, 2001 – June 3, 2001 Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, NJ

June 23, 2001 – September 9, 2001 The St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis, MO

September 29, 2001 – January 6, 2002 The Tech Museum, San Jose, CA

January 26, 2002 – March 24, 2002 Boston Museum of Science, Boston, MA

April 13, 2002 – June 16, 2002 Kirkpatrick Science & Air Museum (Omniplex), Oklahoma City, OK

June 29, 2002 – September 15, 2002 California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA

October 5, 2002 – January 5, 2003 Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, CO

February 4, 2003 – May 26, 2003 ScienceCity, Kansas City, MO

June 14, 2003 – September 7, 2003 Museum of Science & History, Ft. Worth, TX

TBD Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC