Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center

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Kansas Cosmosphere 2003.jpg
Main Entrance (2003)
Established 1962; 53 years ago (1962)
Location 1100 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
Website cosmo.org
Aerial view of Kansas Cosmosphere and Hutchinson Community College (2014)

The Cosmosphere is a STEM education center and museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, United States. It houses over 13,000 spaceflight artifacts - the largest combined collection of US and Russian spaceflight artifacts in the world, and is home to internationally acclaimed educational programs.


The Cosmosphere grew from a planetarium established on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in 1962. The 105,000-square-foot (9,800 m2) facility houses the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow, and a collection of US space artifacts 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 Theater, and Dr. Goddard's Lab (an explosive live science presentation on the history of rocketry). The Cosmosphere also hosts summer camps for all ages, and co-curricular applied STEM education programs for field trips, groups, and scouts that meet Next Generation Science Standards and common core, focused on college and career readiness.

The Cosmosphere is the only Smithsonian affiliate museum in Kansas.[3]

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

In 2015, the Justice Planetarium underwent a complete renovation, transitioning from an optical starball projection system to the Spitz Sci-Dome XD digital projection system.[5]

Restoration and Replication[edit]

The Cosmosphere's SpaceWorks division has restored flown U.S. spacecraft for museums and exhibits across the globe, including artifacts that are part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.[6] Two examples of this work are the Apollo 13 Command Module Odyssey, and the Liberty Bell 7 - both on display at the Cosmosphere. The Cosmosphere built roughly 80% of the artifacts and props for the movie Apollo 13 and of the replicated spacecraft hardware seen in 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)

Flown items included in the Cosmosphere's collection are a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft and the Odyssey command module from Apollo 13. Additionally, authentic Redstone and Titan II launch vehicles used in the Mercury and Gemini programs flank the building's exterior.[8] A prized item on display is a Moon rock from Apollo 11, the first manned mission to Earth's only natural satellite.

Every artifact on display at the Cosmosphere is either an actual, flown, artifact, a "flight-ready backup" (identical to the item actually flown), an engineering model, or an historically accurate replica.

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, as well as SpaceShipOne and commercial spaceflight.

Notable 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 (it is owned by the Cosmosphere). (flown)
  • Gemini X space capsule (flown)
  • Apollo 13 command module Odyssey (flown)
  • An actual Apollo White Room
  • A Titan II rocket used in the Gemini program (authentic)
  • 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)
  • An X-15 rocket engine (flown)
  • A U.S. Air Force SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane (flown)
  • A Vanguard 1 satellite (flight-ready backup)
  • Moon rock collected during Apollo 11
  • A Mercury-Redstone rocket (authentic)
  • Restored versions of World War II German V-1 and V-2 rockets (authentic)
  • Prototype and flown American and Russian spacesuits
  • A full-scale replica of Space Shuttle Endeavour (left side only)
  • A section from the German Wall - last section removed (authentic)
  • A Lunar Rover (full scale replica)
  • A Lunar Module (full scale replica)
  • Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Craft
  • Piece of tile from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster (flown)
  • Sputnik 1 (flight-ready backup) [9]


The Cosmosphere hosts summer camps for all ages, and co-curricular applied STEM education programs for field trips, groups, and scouts that meet Next Generation Science Standards and common core, focused on college and career readiness.


The Cosmosphere is a site for many programs for various scouting groups. There are programs available for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and American Heritage Girls that meet program requirements and help scouts earn merit badges.


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]