Saturn V treks to INFINITY

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Saturn V first stage booster from Apollo 19 is now at the INFINITY Science Center and can be seen from Interstate-10.

The Saturn V first stage booster from Apollo 19 is now at the INFINITY Science Center and can be seen from Interstate-10.

Mankind dreamed one day that they could send humans to the moon and back safely, a feat achieved because of the Saturn V and Apollo programs. Now the Saturn V from the cancelled Apollo 19 mission is on display and being restored at the INFINITY Science Center.

The 138-foot long space craft was the Apollo Saturn V’s first stage booster and is now on display for over 40,000 people each day as they pass the science center on Interstate 10, said the Executive Director of INFINITY Science Center John Wilson.

“This booster is a testament to the state of Mississippi and to the Gulf Coast’s role in one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments. It shows belief in the American ability to achieve anything,” said the Governor of Mississippi Phil Bryant.

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Fred Haise, Apollo 13, Lunar Modular Pilot retired astronaut, shared his experiences and gratitude for the space programs he worked.

“The intensity of thousands of people that work in the space programs is incredible. To me, it was the greatest exploration and engineering accomplishment of the 20th century and I am privileged to have been a part of that,” said Haise.

Bryant described Haise as “the man at the tip of the spear that pierced the clouds and the atmosphere.”

The Phase III expansion at INFINITY to accommodate the rocket required an estimated $5.4 million budget for restoration of the booster to allow future generations to examine.

“We plan to restore the booster back to its prime and make it shine again. It will take a lot of work and dedication but it’ll all be worth it if we can influence the next generation and hopefully have one of those kids using a booster like this to go to Mars some day,” said Wilson.

The booster was transported by Black Diamond Construction on a barge on the Pearl River and arrived on the INFINITY grounds at 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, said Black Diamond Construction owner Chris Zimmerman.

The Saturn V booster exhibit will involve walkways from the main museum, mezzanines overlooking the booster, special event areas, a theater and room for the Apollo 4 capsule and artifacts, said Wilson.