ALL FUNDS RAISED ABOVE THE $70,000 GOAL WILL GO TOWARD THE STA EXHIBIT! THERE'S STILL TIME TO SNAG AWESOME STA PERKS!
THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SUPPORTERS AND COMMUNITY SPONSORS!
***Astronaut Signatures Update 4/21: So far, shuttle astronauts Jim Halsell, Robert "Hoot" Gibson, Owen Garriott, Steve Nagel and L. Blaine Hammond have agreed to sign 50 of our STA posters, available at the $300 donation level!***
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation in Huntsville, Alabama is asking for your help to raise $70,000 to begin installation of a Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Shuttle Park. The aircraft, which bears the tail number N945NA, will be a museum exhibition and immersive classroom for our nearly 600,000 annual visitors and for trainees in our Space Camp®, Aviation Challenge® and Robotics Camp STEM education programs.
About the “Land the Shuttle Training Aircraft” Exhibition Project
Established in 1970, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center® is home to one of the most extensive collections of authentic space hardware and artifacts in the world. As the Official NASA Visitor Center for Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, our mission is to inspire the next generation of astronauts, explorers, scientists, inventors, technicians and leaders through immersive learning and hands-on STEM experiences.
In 2012, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center® acquired the Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft (GII STA) N945NA from NASA. This one-of-a-kind aircraft is specially modified to train astronauts to land the Space Shuttle Orbiter: half of the cockpit designed as a traditional Gulfstream cockpit and the other half designed to replicate the orbiter’s flight controls. Currently, the aircraft is being decommissioned and stored at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in the care of the Alabama Air National Guard.
We plan to display the GII STA to the public in the Space & Rocket Center’s Shuttle Park, home of Pathfinder, the world’s only full-stack space shuttle display. The display of the aircraft would allow the public to enter the vehicle, where they learn more about the history, operation, engineering and technology behind the GII-STA program. The space inside the aircraft will also be used as an awesome classroom and ready room for Space Camp® and Aviation Challenge® trainees.
In order to transport this aircraft to our campus from its current location in Birmingham, we must first prepare the installation site to ensure the aircraft can be safely and securely mounted. The $70,000 goal will pay for the necessary work that will allow us to install the aircraft onto the museum campus, including site demolition, earthwork, concrete and paving, aircraft footings, and storm drainage. If we reach our goal, we hope to have the STA installed in our Shuttle Park by the end of the summer for the public to enjoy. And that's just the first step!
The total exhibition plan for the GII-STA N945NA consists of two major phases. The installation/exhibition phase consists of installing the aircraft in Shuttle Park, building a mock runway leading up to the aircraft, installing a canopy to protect the craft from the elements, and a scaffolding/staircase that will allow the public to explore the interior of the aircraft. The second phase of the project is to build an ADA-compliant outdoor amphitheater underneath the GII-STA’s wingspan. This will be an iconic venue for educational presentations and demonstrations, Space Camp and Aviation Challenge graduations, and special events at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.If you help us hit our $70,000 goal, it will be a monumental first step in bringing a fully-fledged STA exhibition, including access to the interior of the aircraft, to our museum.
Concept drawing of Phase I of the STA exhibition at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Concept drawing of Phase II of the STA exhibition at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Donation Levels and Perks
“Land the STA” project, we are offering some exclusive STA swag not available
in our store, as well as one-of-a-kind experiences you won't find anywhere else. And in addition to the
perks you see listed on the side bar, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center® team is working
on some special items that will make you the envy of space and aviation
enthusiasts everywhere! Donors at every level also receive an
appreciative shout-out on the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s STA website! For more detailed perk descriptions, check out the "Perk Descriptions" file in the gallery.
If you have any questions or would like to help the "Land the STA" project in any way, you can contact Trevor Daniels by email at STA[at]spacecamp[dot]com. Please feel free to share the link to our IndieGoGo page with friends, family, co-workers, or to anyone who will listen! Keep checking back here or at www.rocketcenter.com to follow our progress on our fundraising efforts and for more content on the STA. Thank you for your support in bringing another amazing exhibition to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and for helping us continue our mission to preserve the legacy of human spaceflight and inspire the next generation to keep exploring!
About the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. It supports the educational programs of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp®, through grants, fundraising, scholarships and corporate partnerships. The USSRC established the foundation as the fundraising component for the Center and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) designated the USSRC Foundation as a public charity on March 22, 2002.Land the STA Community Partners
Huntsville and area businesses are showing their support for our Shuttle Training Aircraft exhibit by contributing and helping us promote our campaign! Is your business interested in joining team Land the STA as a community partner? Does your business have a matching program for contributions to non-profit organizations? Contact Trevor Daniels at STA[at]spacecamp[dot]com for more information on how to get involved!
Current STA Community Partners:
Straight to Ale, 4site, Gleneagles Family Medicine, Huntsville/Madison County CVB, Our Valley Events, Geek Out Huntsville, Hall Albright Garrison & Assoc.
More about the Grumman Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft
The fleet of four Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) played a pivotal role in the training of space shuttle pilots and commanders in landing the orbiter spacecraft. Early in the development of training procedures for the space shuttle, there were several aircraft in consideration for this critical function, including the Boeing 737. However, the Grumman Gulfstream II rose above the rest of the pack, becoming NASA’s selected vehicle because of its lower operational costs and its spate of flight capabilities.
The STA provided an invaluable tool for training shuttle pilots and commanders – shuttle orbiters, often referred to as “flying bricks,” returned from space as a glider with no power other than the energy from its previous orbital velocity, and thus no chance to go around to recover from an initial bad approach or attempted landing. Training for approach and landing was critical as the orbiter pilots only had one chance to land after re-entry, and there was very little margin for error. For that reason, commanders and pilots normally flew around 1,000 approaches in the STA during their train-up for an assigned mission.
These training sorties would normally begin at around 30,000 feet, allowing the STA to be configured for the landing simulation. The orbiter pilot would begin the landing simulation at 20,000 feet and 15 miles from touchdown, which in this case was a point where the pilot’s eyes were 32 feet above the runway as if they were in the orbiter.
The trip from 20,000 feet to the ‘touchdown’ point took only two minutes (the STA never actually touched down, rather its landing gear was about 22 feet above the runway). As the simulation began, the STA would deploy its main landing gear, extend its specially-modified wing flaps, and throw its two Rolls-Royce Spey engines in full reverse, all to create the amount of drag that would be felt on the re-entry of the orbiter. Onboard computers also contributed to the simulation, making adjustments to replicate the feel of the orbiter’s landing approach, and allowing the training orbiter pilot to command inputs to the STA’s control surfaces via their joystick in the same manner as if they were flying the orbiter. All of this was done while flying the STA in an 18 to 21 degree dive, descending almost seven-times steeper than a normal commercial airliner. As you can imagine, it made for one heck of a ride!
Inside the cockpit of the STA, which contains both orbiter and standard GII controls.