ARDMORE, Ala. (WHNT) — “Barring any other developments,” the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) is set to move forward with bringing down the Saturn 1B Rocket along Interstate 65.
USSRC said that its business and executive committees met on Friday afternoon to ensure reasonable efforts had been made to save the rocket, which sits at the Ardmore Welcome Center just south of the Alabama/Tennessee state line.
The committees reportedly voted that all efforts have been made, and now the USSRC will move forward with taking the rocket down and returning it to NASA, which actually owns the iconic rocket.
This comes just two days after Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate bill 313 (SB313), which would require the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to oversee “the design, construction and installation” of a replica of the Saturn 1B Rocket.
The Ardmore Welcome Center opened in 1977, and two years later the Saturn 1B rocket was donated by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. The Saturn 1B rocket has now been in place for 44 years at the Welcome Center on I-65 just south of the Tennessee state line, a proud symbol of the state’s input to NASA space exploration. The welcome center itself is currently closed for renovations.
But, in January, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) and the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) began saying it may be time for the rocket to come down amid its continuing deterioration and decay.
Now that SB313 bill has been made law, it will allow ADECA to “accept public or private gifts, grants, and donations, including in-kind services, for use in commissioning the rocket, and may also use funds appropriated to the department by the Legislature for the purposes provided in this section.”
The USSRC said that concerns over repairs and safety are behind the plans to remove the Saturn 1B from its home at the rest stop.
Estimated costs of disassembling and reconstructing the rocket could exceed $7 million and there are no guarantees that the rocket would survive the process, according to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.