(FloridaToday.com) - Lee Starrick has had no trouble filling the new location for the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum in downtown Titusville with artifacts and memorabilia.
Spacesuits, launch consoles, photos and complete pre-construction models of shuttle processing facilities and launch pads are some of the items he can now display in a building three times the size of the old site.
"Basically, it will be a different museum than before," said Starrick, the museum's administrator. "We are going to have so many more displays that we didn't have in our old museum."
Volunteers this month have set up displays at the 6,100-square-foot location on U.S. 1. An opening ceremony is planned for Saturday, although the facility already is open to visitors.
For the past 10 years, much of the museum's collection sat in storage; museum staff had squeezed as much as they could into the previous site.
Now, there is room to assemble actual shuttle launch consoles. Museum visitors can sit at the controls, watch the monitors, listen to mission control and relive a launch.
"Now, we will have our chance to get it out and let people be able to see it," Starrick said. "We've never had these consoles out. Now, we have these three set up, and they are actually doing stuff."
The museum has begun charging admission — $5 for ages 16 and up — to help cover the increased cost of leasing the larger building.
"Our operating costs are about three times what they were at the old museum, and we have to have a lot more revenue sources," said Charlie Mars, president of the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation. "That is our prime concern right now, trying to get the revenue we need to keep the museum in operation."
The museum also will continue to rely on foundation membership dues and sponsorships.
Many museum volunteers worked in the space industry, and they have been gathering items related to spaceflight that would otherwise be discarded. Their goal is to celebrate the accomplishments of the industry by preserving and showing off related artifacts.
The collection in the museum represents the tools used by thousands of Space Coast workers on programs since the 1950s.
"This is something that shouldn't just be thrown away," Mars said. "It should be something that we use as educational for all the kids coming up and for a reminder of those of us who were there during the heyday."