Astronaut Greg Johnson posted a few unusual pictures on Twitter this morning: “Steve Robinson and I were flying the T-38 and noticed this unusual sight in the gulf. Not something you see every day.” Johnson Tweeted.
The space shuttle on barge is a high fidelity replica model named “Explorer,” which was originally at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center. Since KSC will be housing a ‘real’ shuttle, Atlantis, Johnson Space Center will get the replica. Astronaut Johnson snapped another image, below
“Here’s another view from the side,” Johnson said. “The shuttle mockup is enroute to Clear Lake (JSC). It arrives this afternoon.”
Explorer was moved out from Kennedy’s Visitor Center in December 2011 to make way for Space Shuttle Atlantis, and left on the barge on May 24 (see article and images from Ken Kremer here). It wound its way around Florida and along the Gulf Coast to get to the Houston area.
On Sunday, June 3, the replica shuttle will arrive at Space Center Houston where it eventually will become part of a unique display. This weekend (June 1-3) Space Center Houston is hosting a free public “Shuttlebration Weekend.”
Atlantis will be towed to the KSC Visitor Complex in November 2012. The Visitor Complex is constructing a permanent new display hall for Atlantis which is slated to open in 2013.