Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 19
Earl Robb looks around the museum, proud of what it
The museum, located in the lead-mining community
offers visitors and adds, "We didn't realize we were making
about an hour south of St. Louis, offers a great day trip
history. If I'd have known, I might have saved more stuff."
for school groups or an anyone else interested in learning
Museum curator Earl Mullins loves it when school
more about space exploration.
classes and other groups come to visit because he can taiEarl walks around the museum noting items that allor presentations to the group. Other "gee wow" moments
ways seem to pique the interest for all ages. One of those
come when he tells about items we wouldn't have today if
is a white object about an inch square.
it weren't for space travel.
"This was an 8-ounce Styrofoam cup
that went down with the Liberty Bell 7 cap"Most people don't realize camera phones came from
sule," he says. "The pressure at that depth
space research," says Earl. "So did GPS systems, MRI
is 7,000 pounds per square inch. It crushed
imaging and memory foam."
all the air out of the cup."
Excited as a kid in a candy shop about every object in the collection, Earl points out bolts the size
Earl offers the opening of a huge glove.
of soccer balls on the ﬂoor by a display.
"Want to try on a glove worn by an astro"They weigh 30 pounds each and are some of
naut?" he eagerly asks a guest.
the eight bolts that hold the shuttle to the launch
The museum is arranged to walk visitors
pad," Earl says, noting each costs about $3,000.
through the 1950s to the present day. Exhibits
For those who wonder what working Mission Control
include a display about the German rocket engineers and
would have been like, you can sit at the Mission Control
their part during the early years of manned space ﬂight.
module used in Houston for the Gemini 4 mission.
There are also lots of space-wear items on display - helIn another area, a movie clip surrounds viewers with
mets, suits, undergarments, boots, you name it.
the sights and sounds of an actual liftoff, an exhibit not
Another prized possession includes a Mercury ﬂight opfor the faint of heart.
erators manual signed by astronaut Scott Carpenter, one
Before exiting, be sure to visit with the museum's latest
of NASA's original astronauts. There also are packets of
addition, Max, the robotic thespian that enjoys quoting
astronaut food which Earl says, "in a pinch, could probamovies and fun facts about space.
bly still be eaten." Visitors also enjoy touching the piece of
"We've got something for all ages," says the Earl. "While
meteorite which fell from the sky thousands of years ago.
we're excited to be a unique museum, we're trying to let
Kids love the display, especially when he lets them snap a
people see how important space exploration has been and
magnet to its side to show the high iron content.
continues to be. If we can inspire generations to dream
Retired McDonnell Douglas engineers Dean Purdy, Earl
about going to the moon or beyond, then we've accomRobb and Lou Mavros serve on the board of directors for
plished something big."
the museum. The three understand the excitement behind
Earl Mullins' passion for "all things space" because they've
each worked on projects which sent astronauts into orbit.
The Space Museum and Grissom Center is located at 116
"We helped design, build and test space programs
E. School St. in Bonne Terre. Hours are Friday and Saturday
like Mercury and Gemini and then sent them on to Cape
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: $10
Canaveral for ﬁnal testing. It was an amazing feeling when
for adults, $7 for students. Call 573-358-1200 for school
you'd see the spacecraft lift off," Dean says. "It was a job
tours. Follow The Space Museum on Facebook and online at
like no other."
Above left: A scale model of a shuttle launch pad. Center: A domed wall display depicting astronaut Buzz Aldrin placing the United States ﬂag
on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Right: According to Earl, this type of lunar space suit overshoe "was likely worn by every astronaut."
Made from ﬁberglass material, silicone and a metal ﬁber cloth, the covering helped withstand the extreme temperature on the moon's surface.
SEPTEMBER 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP
Rural Missouri - September 2020
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