|By Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl|
The Space Museum in Bonne Terre, Missouri dedicated their newest gallery during a public event held on Saturday, March 16. Hundreds of visitors from the local area and from around the country joined with astronauts, aerospace engineers, prominent authors and media representatives to celebrate the opening of the Grissom Center, named for astronaut Gus Grissom. The tickets for the meet-and-greet session and panel discussion were sold out, but the public was encouraged to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the museum galleries. The Grissom Center is located in the Heritage Hall building next to the original museum location and will be open during regular visiting hours.
Visitors were greeted by friendly volunteers at the ticket table and treated to coffee and donuts as they began arriving about an hour before the 10:00 A.M. ribbon-cutting ceremony. Blue skies and warm temperatures were already adding to the positive anticipation of the day's activities. One of the early arrivals was Scott Grissom, son of astronaut Gus Grissom. Not surprisingly, the media flocked to him for interviews, and The Space Museum President, Earl Mullins, was finally able to show him around the Grissom Center gallery before the opening ceremony. Mr. Grissom was a good sport about it all, and he accommodated us with photo-ops as we went through the brief tour.
Other special guests arrived prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and several interviews were conducted by the HEC-TV (Higher Education Channel Television) crew led by award-winning producer, Jacqui Poor. Portions of these interviews and more of the day's program will be featured in an upcoming HEC-TV video presentation.
Lowell Grissom, brother of Gus Grissom, and George Leopold,
author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times
of Gus Grissom
Astronaut Jerry Ross, author of Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and
Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer
McDonnell Douglas Engineering Manager Jerry Roberts, a
member of Mac's Old Team who developed the first U.S.
Mark Nankivil, President of the Greater St. Louis Air &
The dedication of the Grissom Center began a few minutes early as the special guests assembled for the ribbon-cutting ceremony: members of the Grissom family, Bonne Terre, MO Mayor Brandon Hubbard and City Administration staff, and the NASA panel discussion members mentioned in Part 1 of this series. The giant scissors used were provided courtesy of the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce.
"It has been quite a journey," The Space Museum's President, Earl Mullins, said in his opening remarks. "We've been working on this facility for a long time, and we've been working on it in earnest for five years...Through the help of some very dedicated gentlemen, we have brought this to fruition." Mullins stressed the point that the museum is more than the accomplishment of a small group of volunteers. "This is a regional thing," Mullins continued. "This is for all of you...We want this to make a difference to our community and to our region." With the cutting of the ribbon, the Grissom Center was officially open to the public.
Following the dedication of the Grissom Center, the visitors proceeded to tour the gallery and visit with the NASA astronauts in the adjoining Heritage Hall. The Aero Experience will provide continuing coverage of the autograph sessions and panel discussion in Part 3 of this series coming soon.