|By Fred Harl|
|By Mark Nankivil|
Strataca Kansas Underground Salt Museum located 650 feet below the surface in a salt mine that was first mined back in 1923. Portions of the mine are still in production today. A fascinating place to visit and well worth adding to your "to do" list when you are in Hutchinson.
The Cosmosphere is an impressive museum that is fully dedicated to the history of space flight. It has the largest Russian space artifact collection outside of Moscow and the second largest collection of U.S. space artifacts, bested only by the National Air and Space Museum. As you approach the Museum, both Mercury/Redstone and Gemini/Titan missiles mark the museum's location, and as you make your way into the museum, you see an SR-71 and a replica of the left side of the Space Shuttle Endeavour with replica tiles and thermal blankets adorning its sides. A very impressive entry way!
Artifacts on display include Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 Mercury capsule, restored by the museum's own renowned team after its recovery from the Atlantic Ocean in 1999, Gemini X, Apollo 13 "Odyssey," a NASA T-38 and particularly the Soviet space artifacts. Seeing an actual Vostok and replica Voskhod space capsules makes one appreciate the difference in design philosophy that the Soviets used for their space program. Especially moving is the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial and the beautiful stained glass piece at the center of it. The museum also has an IMAX theatre and a planetarium, though we did not partake of either during our visit. It's a great museum that is well worth the time and miles to visit!