HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is working with its partners to launch a new project aimed at bridging Huntsville's space history and future.
The effort leaders call Rockets On Parade is expected to bring model Space Launch System rockets to businesses, schools, and churches near you.
"Yes, we went to the moon 50 years ago with the Saturn V, Apollo program. But Huntsville today is going back to the moon and on to Mars in the Space Launch System," said Deborah Barnhart, USSRC C.E.O. "We're painting SLS's in Huntsville."
The model SLS is available for community members to purchase. It is all-white, unpainted, and you can commission local artists and other groups to decorate it for display.
"Many of the artists in Arts Huntsville are waiting to be hired to do this job. And then you can also have it done by your school, by your children, your employees, whoever you'd like," Barnhart explained. "The more interesting and wild, the better, I think!"
The model SLS costs $1500 to purchase from the USSRC, Barnhart said, and you can pick one up right now. Joe Vallely, Vice President of External Affairs, said approximately $300 of that purchase "goes to rocket restoration." The fundraising for that effort is ongoing, as the USSRC plans to preserve and restore the Saturn V replica along with each historic rocket on site.
Vallely said this Rockets on Parade project is a way to continue the past-to-present theme of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
"Next year with the 50th anniversary of Apollo, I think people are going to flock to Huntsville to see where this genius rocket was born," Barnhart said. And she wants the rest of Huntsville to get in on the action by calling the Rocket Center, or clicking this link to get a model SLS of their own. Anyone can buy one.
"This is really just a celebration of our history, and our future of rocketry," Barnhart said. "It's part of our heritage, to celebrate all of our people. All of our community."
Barnhart hopes to see more than 100 of the painted model SLS's in the community by July, when the anniversary celebration begins. She told us there will be a competition and judges will select the most original painted SLS among the group before them. The details about that will be announced at a later date.
The USSRC website says, "The rockets will be judged based on impact, creativity, subject matter, and historical storytelling and be on display throughout the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Celebration.