Saturn V First Stages Makes its way to MS Infinity Science Center
A piece of space exploration history is coming back to life and is being used for a new mission: to educate and inspire.
A piece of the Apollo 19, the rocket that sent mankind to the moon, made its way to INFINITY Space Center in Hancock County after sitting dormant for nearly half a century.
On April 11th, 1970, Fred Haise was on board a spacecraft, part of Apollo 13, the third manned mission intended to land on the moon, when the unthinkable happened. “We suffered an explosion and that caused us to do an abort. We really did not get to accomplish the landing, which I had done with Jim Lovell. We had to have a lot of people and ourselves on the ground do work arounds, something that has never been planned,” said Haise.
Ultimately, they managed to make it home safely. Those terrifying moments up in space on Apollo 13 didn’t stop Haise from preparing to try out the mission again. He was intended to be commander of Apollo 19, but all Apollo missions following 17 were cancelled.
Instead of going to the moon, the Apollo 19 Saturn 5 First Stage Rocket Booster sat unused for decades. This week, a new mission was launched as the historic rocket booster made its way from NASA’s Michoud facility in New Orleans, where it was assembled, to its new home in front of INFINITY Science Center. Executive Director of INFINITY Science Center John Wilson said, “We have a lot of work to do to restore it and conserve it and to preserve it for these future generations. It’s a big project, but it’s one that we can do. We can take it on and I know we’ll be successful at it and it will serve to inspire.”
And serve as Mississippi’s front door to the millions of people traveling on Interstate 10, a standing reminder of Mississippi’s massive role in space exploration. “Other than the symbology it represents of all the work that’s been done at Michoud and Stennis, but an icon hopefully to get some of the people that travel Interstate 10 from all over the country to drop in,” said Haise.
Which could possibly spark interest and inspire the next generation of astronauts. “This day is all about inspiring children and young people to do big, bold things and this booster behind us represents that some years ago, how America rose to the challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade and it pulled out the best in all of us.”