Tower General Contractors was recently awarded the contract to build the Columbia Memorial Space Science & Learning Center in Downey CA. The project will commemorate the space shuttle, which, on February 1, 2003, made an uncontrolled reentry to the earth’s atmosphere. The seven crew members lost their lives, including: Rick D. Husband, Commander; William C. McCool, Pilot; Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander; David M. Brown, Mission Specialist 1; Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist 2; Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Mission Specialist 4; and Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist.
In October, 2004, both Houses of Congress passed a resolution (Public Law No: 108-391) authored by U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard and co-sponsored by the entire contingent of California Representatives to Congress, naming Downey, CA the home of the Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center. The Center will honor the memory of the Columbia Space Shuttle Crew. The Center is also intended to serve as a tribute to the many people who have worked in the aviation and aerospace industry in Downey over seven decades. The leaders of the Center have a major educational goal: to enhance space science knowledge and scientific literacy. The Center is expected to be completed in early 2008.
“We are pleased to have been selected to construct this distinguished building, which memorializes those who gave their lives for the exploration of space,” said Alex Guerrero, executive vice president of Tower General Contractors, located in Los Angeles. “The Center will educate future generations about science and aerospace making it a living tribute to their memory, while educating the next generation of astronauts.”
The 18,000 square foot facility will include active learning experiences that will educate students on various aspects of aerospace, including:
* The Challenger Learning Center will feature a simulated space mission that will test the participant’s decision-making skills.
* The Center will include a Space Science Discovery Zone where visitors will find a variety of interactive exhibits that help them explore principles of flight, living in space, the search for life beyond earth, and the origins of the universe.
* The Mars Robotics Lab will allow young visitors the opportunity to design and program their own robots in order to complete a remote exploration mission to the planet Mars.
* Historical displays will tell the story of the men and women who contributed to the spirit of invention and innovation that led to the development of the aviation and aerospace industry in Downey, Southern California, and propelled the United States to a leadership role in space exploration.
The design firms of Arquitectonica, which is responsible for the architecture and interior design, and Arquitectonica GEO, the landscape designer, will continue to oversee the project during construction.
“In 1999, when the Downey NASA Plant closed, the City of Downey began a redevelopment effort, including an educational component. The construction of the Columbia Memorial Space Science & Learning Center is the culmination of our efforts to preserve Downey’s 70-year legacy of aviation and aerospace history through space science education programs,” said Rick Trejo, City of Downey Mayor. “The memorial will provide a way to extract something positive from the Columbia disaster,” he added.