US Space Walk of Fame
History and museums, Shopping
The US Space Walk of Fame is an outdoor plaza on the Indian River in Titusville, Florida, honoring both the astronauts and the NASA and contractor personnel who made American manned space exploration possible. Its monuments surrounding a pool are dedicated to the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. A nearby museum houses related exhibits and artifacts.
Its mission statement is "To preserve the history of the United States space program, to honor the men and women who made space flight a reality and the astronauts who flew the missions, and to educate the global community about the history of space exploration and its benefits to humankind." It describes itself as "The first and only Walk in the nation that honors America's astronauts as well as the men and women behind the scenes who helped America lead the world in space exploration and accomplishments."
The display was created by the non-profit US Space Walk of Fame Foundation (USSWOFF) composed of community leaders, aerospace industry officials and current and retired space workers. The foundation is also building a database, currently including more than 10,000 names, of space workers and their employers; and has received a grant to record oral histories from many of the men and women associated with the early US space program.
"We need to remember the people who made it possible, so little is said of them." —Alan Shepard, May 13, 1996
The USSWOFF, a partnership between the foundation and the City of Titusville, created the US Space Walk of Fame as a major component of a redevelopment master plan for Titusville's downtown waterfront. It was conceived in 1988 by Titusville physician Dr. Doyle E. Chastain, who wrote a letter to the Titusville City Council suggesting such a project. With a downtown redevelopment program in progress and a desire to further enhance the area by taking advantage of the riverfront, the proposal was welcomed by the council and the city's Community Redevelopment Agency. The result was the US Space Walk of Fame Foundation.
A few civic-minded individuals and space pioneers stepped forward as volunteers to manage the foundation and a partnership was born with the city. Through grants and other sources not considered normal revenue, the city provided the park infrastructure; and the foundation raised funds for the monuments, plaques, mission insignia markers and other space-related items to carry out the riverwalk's space theme. Engravings sold through the foundation enable space workers or their families to honor the worker by having his or her name engraved on the appropriate monument.
In July 1994, the city dedicated the new riverfront area, named Space View Park, which provides the anchor point for the US Space Walk of Fame. The Mercury Monument and mission plaques, with cast bronze hand prints of six of the original seven astronauts, were dedicated on May 12, 1995; and the Mercury mission insignia were unveiled on May 23, 1997. The Mercury monument is a copy of the one at Launch Complex 14.
Groundbreaking for the Gemini Monument, and the first Gemini reunion, were held on July 19, 1996. The Gemini Monument was dedicated on November 7, 1997. Groundbreaking for the Apollo Monument was held on July 16, 1999 at precisely 9:32 a.m. ET, exactly 30 years after the lift-off of Apollo 11. The event kicked off a week-long 30th anniversary celebration of the launch of Apollo 11 and the first manned moon landing. The Apollo Monument dedication and an Apollo reunion were held on July 17, 2009 with Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden. The Gemini and Apollo monuments also include cast bronze hand prints of the surviving astronauts who flew those missions.
The Space Shuttle monument was dedicated in 2014.
The US Space Walk of Fame Museum, located nearby at 308 Pine Street, illustrates America's history in space exploration by displaying hundreds of artifacts, including photos, hardware, flight suits, shuttle tiles, space patches and pins, and other memorabilia from personal collections of space workers. The museum also features several launch consoles from Launch Complex 36
A reading library offers space-oriented books, magazine articles, documents and mission directories as well as video tapes. Oral histories from space workers documenting their work experience and personal feelings about their jobs and the roles they played are being gathered. Among the volunteers (and a USSWOFF founding member) is retired NASA engineer Sam T. Beddingfield.
Guided tours are available with advance reservation. The museum is a non-profit organization, and its viability was threatened by the end of the space shuttle program in 2011 and the anticipated resulting drop in visitor donations.
Space View Park, on the Indian River, is directly west of Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center, providing the closest public location to witness space shuttle launches.