Fifty years ago this July the world watched as Neil Armstrong become the first human to set foot on extraterrestrial soil. Getting there in the 1960s took a mammoth feat of human intelligence and bravery. To commemorate Armstrong’s historic first steps on the moon, the National Corvette Museum is hosting a NASA exhibit that explores the space program while adding a bit of Chevrolet Corvette lore into the mix. The exhibit, called From Gas Station to Space Station: How NASA Conquered Low-Earth Orbit, looks at how we got to low-Earth orbit and what we’ve done in space since Armstrong’s historic first steps.
“This exhibit shows where we’ve gone since going to the moon and tells the story of where that transformative moment in history has led us,” said NCM Curator Derek E. Moore. “We’ll be looking at some stories about how one becomes an astronaut and look into how we landed on the moon, and how that is leading us into the future.”
The museum was able to even get a bit of local NASA history into the exhibit. Western Kentucky University has loaned the museum Terry Wilcutt’s actual flight suit, helmet, boots, and glove. He’s flown four Space Shuttle missions. There’s little argument that our success in spaceflight is fascinating enough. However, there can’t be a discussion of NASA’s Mercury and Apollo Programs without talking about how the Corvette became the go-to sports car of choice for many astronauts.
While former GM President Ed Cole did give Alan Shepard a new Corvette to honor his accomplishment of being first American to travel in space, it was former Indy 500 winner, turned Florida Cadillac/Corvette dealer, Jim Rathmann who leased a Corvette for a $1 to many of the astronauts in the programs. Rathmann forever cultivated the iconic relationship between pioneering astronauts and the U.S. space program with the Chevrolet. The exhibit runs until June 30, 2019.