HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Each city has its symbol, but few tower as high as Huntsville's. "When you think of NYC, you see the Statue of Liberty. When you think of St. Louis, you see the Arch. How many cities have a lunar vehicle as their benchmark?"
Between the Alabama Bicentennial celebration and the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, the Space and Rocket Center will undoubtedly be the backdrop of countless events.
"What we want to do is completely refurbish all of the equipment, and rockets, and exhibits, that are here at the Rocket Center so that we are at our very best to welcome the world to Huntsville in 2019," explained the U.S Space and Rocket Center CEO, Deborah Barnhart.
Work has already begun to assess the condition of each of the rockets. "So as we discover what type of paints were on them, what types of non-destructive testing we're going to have to do to see what the structural integrity is of the rockets, then we'll know what's ahead of us."
Since the center opened in 1970, the outdoor exhibits have never been renovated. That changes as the countdown to 2019 continues, but it won't come without its unique challenges.
"The Saturn V as you know is a football field long," said Barnhart. "Even the cranes to reach the top of that vehicle are very hard to come by and very expensive."
Which means the center is hoping citizens of the city's symbol will feel lead to help any way they can. "We welcome all help in restoration of these rockets."
Deborah Barnhart says the Ardmore Saturn 1B Rocket at the Alabama Welcome Center on I-65 will also be included in the renovation efforts. If you're interested in donating to the restoration project, you can do so on the center's website.