Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Now is your chance to own piece of the Liberty Bell 7
Posted: November 25, 2000

  Liberty Bell 7
The Liberty Bell 7 capsule is lifted from the Atlantic Ocean last year. Photo: Discovery Channel
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is making a limited number of items remaining from the restoration of the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft available to the public. The proceeds from the sales will help offset the costs of the Cosmosphere's Liberty Bell 7 restoration and exhibition program.

"We have numerous bolts and screws that we were not able to put back in the spacecraft," said Max Ary, Cosmosphere President and CEO. "In many cases, the items could not be reinstalled in the spacecraft because of the corroded condition of the components to which they were originally attached."

The items are embedded in wedge-shaped, custom-made clear acrylics approximately 4 1/2" high and 5 1/4" wide. The acrylics feature an image of the restored spacecraft and descriptive text, and are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

The Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft and its contents are owned by the Cosmosphere, which received title to the spacecraft from NASA and the Smithsonian Institution. It is the only flown, manned U.S. spacecraft owned by an organization other than the Smithsonian or NASA.

"Since the first days of the project, we have had people asking about purchasing the unusable items, including the mud and organic material we scraped off of the components," Ary said. "We were really astounded by the level of interest in this project from around the world."

According to Ary, the Cosmopshere is following the lead of such national institutions such as the Smithsonian in making unusuable items remaining from restoration projects available to the general public to help offset the high cost of restoration projects.

"I, myself, purchased a piece of the fabric from the Smithonian's restored Wright Brothers' Vin Fiz airplane many years ago," Ary said.

Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft was recovered July 20, 1999, from a depth of 16,043 feet during a deep-sea salvage expedition funded by the Discovery Channel. The spacecraft was painstakingly preserved by the restoration team at the Cosmosphere. Every one of the nearly 25,000 parts of Liberty Bell 7 had to be removed, disassembled, cleaned and then put back together. The spacecraft is now on a three-year nationwide tour as part of a traveling exhibition titled The Lost Spacecraft: Liberty Bell 7 Recovered. The exhibit opened June 17 at Kennedy Space Center. It is currently on exhibit at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

The Liberty Bell 7 acrylics are available through the Cosmosphere's Cargo Bay Gift Store at 316.662.2305 or 800.397.0330, ext. 348, or through the Cosmosphere's website at