The Shuttle Inspiration passes through Prescott enroute to St. Cloud

By Bruce Karnick
Posted 6/27/24

Last year, Hastings saw a gigantic tank work its way through town. The sight of large machines doing their work is quite interesting to see and area residents were reminded of that fact with the …

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The Shuttle Inspiration passes through Prescott enroute to St. Cloud


Last year, Hastings saw a gigantic tank work its way through town. The sight of large machines doing their work is quite interesting to see and area residents were reminded of that fact with the moving of the space shuttle Inspiration. Inspiration was moved from Florida to St. Cloud with a lengthy stop near the Prescott beach on Highway 10.
The 140-foot-long truck and trailer was parked just past the Prescott beach parking lot on the westbound side of Highway 10 for a little over half of a day. The reason for the pause? Permits. Each state has their own permitting process for oversized vehicles, and the permit for the shuttle move in Wisconsin ended at 2 p.m. on June 21 and the next leg of the trip in Minnesota was not permitted to start until 12:01 a.m. on June 22. So, they were forced to sit on the side of the road until the State Patrol joined them for the escort around midnight.
That gave area residents a solid afternoon and evening to take in the site of a part of a space shuttle sitting on the side of the road. It also gave folks time to speak to former NASA employee and current consultant Daniel Raymond. Raymond was very gracious with his time and knowledge of the shuttle program speaking to anyone that had questions about the program and the move of Shuttle Inspiration.
“We are in the process of moving this mockup orbiter called ‘Inspiration’ from the Kennedy Space Center to St. Cloud, Minnesota. The intent is that we are going to make it even better than it was before. We want to make it into a museum. A spaceport. It will be called ‘The Inspiration Spaceport’. The intent is that we have the backing right now of several of your legislators in the state. We want to bring education and learning to the young kids that are out there today to replace us that have been around for years,” explained Raymond.
Inspiration is not a functional shuttle, it is a mockup of the real shuttle, which is just as important, if not more so, to the success of the various shuttle missions. By now, anyone reading this should be familiar with the Matt Damon movie ‘The Martian’. If not, add it to your list and make it a priority to watch the movie. In The Martian, Damon becomes stranded on Mars due to a dust storm during the team’s mission.
Throughout the movie, NASA uses a second version of the first Mars lander to communicate with him on Mars. Then the teams use a mockup of the same rover that is with him on Mars to help him engineer his way to another escape ship on the planet surface. Once at the escape vehicle, they use another mockup to work out his trip to Mars’ orbit so he can be rescued.
The same thought process was used with Apollo 13, another great space movie. There we see how the mockups on earth actually helped real life astronauts return to earth safely after a catastrophe occurred in space.
All of these mockups are important in real life not only for the ‘just in case’ scenario in space, but for learning, planning, upgrading and more here on earth, and now, Inspiration is going to be used as the name implies. The goal is for it to be an inspiration to the next generation of space explorers like the exhibits in other parts of the country are. Or at least that’s what the donors are hoping for.
“Inspiration will be a dynamic display,” added Raymond. “We hope that in the next couple of years you will see this happen in St. Cloud.”
The owner of the mockup, LVS Florida also has a base of operations in St. Cloud. They had to accelerate the move of the shuttle because Florida is entering Hurricane season and they did not want any additional damage to occur, so the 1,750-mile trip was planned out and executed this year before they have secured a museum spot in St. Cloud. When the shuttle crossed into Minnesota, it was on the home stretch, an estimated 4-5 hour trip from Prescott north along country roads to interstate 94, 694 and back to 94 to complete its journey.
According to the website on the side of the shuttle, when complete, the museum will be interactive and offer thrilling experiences of what space travel is like. The intention is to launch individuals to new levels of inspiration and assist them in achieving impossible dreams never believed possible. Ultimately, the complex, when built, will be an augmented reality space port.
The shuttle is the same size and dimensions as actual shuttles used for orbital flights. Once on its landing gear, it stands 57 feet tall at the tail, and 30 feet tall to the top of the hull. The length of the orbiter is 121 feet with a 78-foot wingspan. It would fit nicely in the dimensions of a baseball infield to put that into a tangible example. It can also hold a full-sized motorcoach inside the cargo bay.
With the trip to St. Cloud over for now, Inspiration will be stored until a permanent home can be built for it, and with the amazing plans of the education space port attached to that, it is going to be quite the wait to see this come to fruition.