The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas houses the second largest collection of U.S. space memorabilia in the country, second only to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The Cosmosphere is also home to the largest collection of Russian space memorabilia outside of Moscow. The Cosmosphere is also one of three museums in the world that has spacecrafts from all three early manned U.S. space programs.
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center grew from humble beginnings. The Cosmosphere was founded by Patricia Brooks Carey who aspired to create the first public planetarium. The Hutchinson Planetarium opened in 1962 inside the Poultry Building at the Kansas State Fairgrounds. The first planetarium consisted of a used star projector and rented seats. In 1966, the planetarium relocated to the Hutchinson Community College Campus. A mere ten years later, the Hutchinson Planetarium began to plan to expand. In order to expand, the Hutchinson Planetarium’s board of directors sought advice from Max Ary who had worked at the planetarium as a student. Ary was the director of Fort Worth’s Noble Planetarium and served on the Smithsonian’s committee that placed tens of thousands of space artifacts at museums at the conclusion of the Apollo space missions. In 1980, the Hutchinson Planetarium was launched as the Kansas Cosmosphere and Discover Center and housed permanent exhibit galleries in the Hall of Space Museum, had one of the world’s first OMNIMAX theatres, and was the planetarium that set the standard for other space museums worldwide. In 1997, the museum expanded to its present size, a staggering 105,000 square feet. This expansion tripled the size...
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...space missions and provide campers with real world, hands on training, similar to the training provided at NASA facilities.
By helping to provide educational and entertainment services, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center reaches out to thousands of people a year, enriching them with knowledge about the history of space flight programs in the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center also allows museums worldwide, as well as prop houses, to restore and replicate authentic space vehicles for their displays and production sets. As the Smithsonian’s only affiliate museum outside of Washington, D.C., the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center allows visitors to explore space without having to travel the nation’s capital. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center will continue to educate and entertain many people for years to come.
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