Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kansas Cosmosphere
and Space Center
Kansas Cosmosphere 2003.jpg
Main Entrance (2003)
Established 1962; 53 years ago (1962)
Location 1110 North Plum Street
Hutchinson, KS 67501
United States
Coordinates 38°03′55″N 97°55′17″W / 38.065304°N 97.921344°W / 38.065304; -97.921344Coordinates: 38°03′55″N 97°55′17″W / 38.065304°N 97.921344°W / 38.065304; -97.921344
Type Space Museum
Collection size 15,000
Visitors 150,000 / year
President Richard Hollowell (Interim)
Website cosmo.org
Aerial view of Kansas Cosmosphere and Hutchinson Community College (2014)

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, also known as Cosmosphere, is a museum and educational facility in Hutchinson, Kansas, United States. It is best known for the display and restoration of spaceflight artifacts and educational camps. It is one of only three museums to display flown spacecraft from Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.


The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center grew from a planetarium established on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in 1962. The 105,000-square-foot (9,800 m2) facility now houses the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow, and the second largest collection of space artifacts in the world, second only to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C..[1][2]

The Cosmosphere has four venues: The Hall of Space Museum, The Justice Planetarium, The Carey Digital Dome Theatre, and Dr. Goddard's Lab, which is a live science presentation. The Cosmosphere also hosts a series of camps for children as young as those going into second grade, up to a camp designed for grandparents to attend with their grandchildren.

The only Smithsonian affiliate museum in Kansas, the Cosmosphere was voted one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas in a 2008 poll.[3]

In 2012, the Carey Digital Dome Theater upgraded from IMAX to 4K digital projection.[4]

In 2015, the Justice Planetarium was closed from February 2 to March 13 to undergo a complete renovation, with a Grand Reopening April 12.[5]

Restoration and Replication[edit]

The Cosmosphere has restored flown U.S. spacecraft that are part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.[6] Two examples on display are the Apollo 13 Command Module Odyssey, and the Liberty Bell 7. The Cosmosphere built much of the replicated spacecraft hardware seen in the movies Apollo 13 and Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D; and the TV mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.[7]


Apollo 13 command module on display (2010)
Interior view of the Apollo 13 capsule (2009)
Liberty Bell 7 on display (2006)
German V-2 rocket on display (2013)
Flight-ready backup of Russian Sputnik 1 on display (2008)

Included in the Cosmosphere's collection are a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft from Mercury 4 and the Odyssey command module from Apollo 13, as well as Redstone and Titan II launch vehicles used in the Mercury and Gemini programs.[8] A prized item on display is a moon rock from Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon.

The Cosmosphere is the only museum in the world that has both an authentic restored V-1 flying bomb and an authentic restored V-2 missile. It is also the only museum outside of Russia that has an authentic, flown Vostok capsule.

Nearly all of the vehicles, rockets, spacecraft, and spacesuits on display are either authentic or a "flight-ready backup," which is identical to the item actually flown: if a problem is detected in a spacecraft, rocket, or suit before it is flown, the backup fills in on the mission for the damaged item. The only replicated items in the Cosmosphere are the model of Glamorous Glennis, the Bell X-1 flown by Chuck Yeager, and the life-sized space shuttle replica that greets visitors.

The Cosmosphere museum begins with the earliest experiments in rocketry during the World War II era, explores through the Space Race and Cold War, and continues through modern times with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Items on display
  • Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft, recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the only flown spacecraft owned by a museum outside the National Air and Space Museum.
  • Gemini X space capsule
  • Apollo 13 command module Odyssey
  • An actual Apollo White Room
  • A Titan II rocket used in the Gemini program
  • A Russian Vostok space capsule
  • A replica of the X-1 flown by Chuck Yeager, Glamorous Glennis, used in the filming of The Right Stuff
  • An engine from Glamorous Glennis flown by Yeager
  • An X-15 rocket engine
  • A U.S. Air Force SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane
  • A backup version of the Vanguard 1 satellite
  • Moon rock collected during Apollo 11
  • A Mercury-Redstone rocket
  • Restored versions of World War II German V-1 and V-2 rockets
  • Prototype and space-flown American and Russian spacesuits
  • A full-scale mock-up of Space Shuttle Endeavour (left side only)
  • A section from the German Wall - last section removed
  • A Lunar Rover
  • A Lunar Module
  • Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Craft
  • A copy of the sphere-shaped Soviet pennant flown on Luna 2
  • Piece of tile from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
  • A flight-ready backup for Sputnik 1[9]


The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center provides a range of educational programming. Their summer camp program, started in 1985, has expanded to include camps for elementary through adult. The main camp was known as The Future Astronaut Training Program. In 2011 their camp programs were re-branded as Kansas Adventures in Outer Space. The Cosmosphere also offers educational programs for elementary school field trips and customizable programs for groups of 10 or more adults.


The Kansas Cosmosphere is a site for many programs for various scouting groups. They currently host programs for merit badges for Boy Scouts including, Astronomy, Engineering, Robotics and Space Exploration. The "Merits of Space" program provides 5 Merit Badges during a five-day residential camp. The Cosmosphere hosts overnight programs for Brownies and Jr. Girl Scouts.


In November 2003, the Cosmosphere released a statement indicating that a routine audit had revealed many missing items from the museum. Over a year later, in April 2005, former Cosmosphere director Max Ary was charged with stealing artifacts from the museum's collection and selling the pieces for personal profit. Some of the missing items included a nose cone, silk screens, boot covers, nuts and bolts, an Air Force One control panel, and a tape of the Apollo 15 landing which Ary sold for $2,200.00.

Additional charges involved the theft of dozens more artifacts from the Cosmosphere when he left in 2002, and false insurance claims made on the loss of an astronaut's Omega watch replica. Ary had also failed to notify NASA of the loss of the watch.

Ary went on trial in 2005. He testified that the artifacts he sold were from his private collection which he had accumulated through undocumented trades and salvage of unwanted items. He also stated he had received numerous personal gifts from astronauts. Some of the items in question were supposedly brought with him from the Noble Planetarium in 1976 and incorporated into the Cosmosphere's permanent collection, and in many cases, ownership of artifacts could not be proved on Ary's behalf or the Cosmosphere's.

Ary was found guilty on 12 counts. On May 15, 2006, he was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $132,000.00. In 2008 he lost his appeal, and began to serve his sentence in a federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma on April 24, 2008.[10][11] Ary has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. He was released on good behavior in June 2010.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ cosmo.org
  2. ^ "Louisburg Herald". Herald-online.com. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  3. ^ Rothschild, Scott (2008-01-30). "8 Wonders of Kansas revealed / LJWorld.com". .ljworld.com. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  4. ^ Cosmosphere changes from IMAX to digital theater; KSN; October 6, 2012.
  5. ^ Cosmosphere's planetarium to undergo complete renovation; KAKE tv; January 30, 2015.
  6. ^ Cosmosphere Restoration
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Kansas Cosmosphere gets ICBM built in 1960s; Lawrence Journal World; April 26, 1989.
  9. ^ "Hutchinson, KS - Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center". Roadsideamerica.com. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  10. ^ Vandruff, Ken (May 16, 2006) "Ary given three-year prison term" Wichita Business Journal
  11. ^ Green, John (May 5, 2008) "Ruling on Ary stands" hutchnews.com

External links[edit]