Space Shuttle Inspiration

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Not to be confused with the Space Shuttle replica Inspiration at the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Space Shuttle Inspiration (California) forwards fuselage.jpg
Country  United States
Contract award North American Rockwell
Status In storage

Space Shuttle Inspiration is a full-scale Space Shuttle mockup built in 1972 by North American Rockwell. The plastic and wood model was made to promote the company's bid to construct the Space Shuttle fleet.


The Space Shuttle Orbiter mockup was constructed by North American Rockwell in 1972. It was shown to NASA and Congress to win approval for the space shuttle program. The mockup is approximately the same size and shape as an actual Orbiter. It was also used to design cable harnesses for production shuttle Orbiters and to test-fit flight hardware.

The mockup was abandoned in place by NASA, so the owners of the property placed it on temporary display at the Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center in Downey, California, in July 2012.[1][2]

Refurbishment and naming[edit]

After it sat in storage for many years, in 2012 the owners decided to refurbish Inspiration. The cost of refurbishment is estimated at US$1 million, with another million required for a building to house Inspiration.

"Some deterioration processes are already underway. The outer skin of the shuttle, made of plywood on a wooden frame, is buckling slightly and showing signs of internal delamination. Paper components representing insulation or other lining of the sub-deck are disintegrating. Adhesive mounts and backing for a range of fasteners have become yellowed and embrittled. Delicate plastic components also appear to be degrading slightly. Clear plastic, prismatic ceiling panels have fine crazing cracks, and are starting to become detached at their fasteners."[1][3]

Originally unnamed, it was named Inspiration on September 24, 2012.[4][5]

Display and storage[edit]

Inspiration was housed in a tent outside the Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center in Downey, California.[5] Due to a lack of funds for building a community center which would have housed the mockup, in December 2013 the Downey City Council voted to place Inspiration into storage.[6] On March 4 and 5, 2014, the replica was disassembled and moved to the city's maintenance yard.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b Goss, Heather (June 14, 2012). "Downey Will Display Shuttle Mock-Up". Daily Planet. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  2. ^ Hennigan, W. J. (June 15, 2012). "Meet 'the original shuttle'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ Pearlman, Robert Z. (June 25, 2012). "Original 1972 space shuttle mockup going on display". CollectSpace. Retrieved April 15, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Council chooses 'Inspiration' as name for space shuttle mock-up". September 25, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Pearlman, Robert Z. (July 12, 2012). "Original 1972 space shuttle mockup moved outdoors for Downey, CA display". CollectSpace. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ Brown, Christian (December 19, 2013). "Downey's space shuttle mock-up going back in storage". The Downey Patriot. 12 (36). Retrieved April 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ Brown, Christian (March 6, 2014). "Downey's space shuttle goes back in storage". The Downey Patriot. 12 (47). Retrieved April 15, 2014. 
  8. ^ Yee, Greg (March 12, 2014). "Downey space shuttle mock-up's fate rests with yet-to-be-hired executive director". Press-Telegram. Retrieved April 15, 2014. 

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