The dramatic vehicles that are carrying the United States into the space age are displayed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense in the area surrounding the Hall of Science. On display are a Project Mercury spacecraft which has orbited the earth, a Gemini two-man spacecraft, a model of the Apollo which will carry three astronauts into lunar orbit, a lunar excursion vehicle in which men will land on the moon, and a full-scale X-15 rocket-powered research airplane. Thor-Delta, Atlas and Titan II rockets stand in launch positions, with the Tiros satellite and Mercury and Gemini capsules as their payloads.

The Space Park was a very popular part of the Fair, for the Space Age was in full swing and there was tremendous interest in anything associated with NASA. While the Gemini capsule seen here was only a replica, the Mercury capsule had actually been launched as part of an early test - a fact not discovered until decades after the Fair had closed and the rocket was disassembled. (CD #20 Set 105 #43)
Visitors could look inside an actual Mercury capsule which had been flown in space. Here's the text of the sign seen in the picture:


This is the actual Aurora-7
Mercury spacecraft in which
astronaut Malcolm Scott Carpenter
orbited the Earth three times
on May 24, 1962

. (CD #20 Set 105 #45)

The mighty X-15 rocket plane was display, although only as a full-size mock-up. Other displays showcased satellites and other aspects of the space program. (CD #29 Set 155 #5)
One of the most impressive displays was the lowest stage of the mighty Saturn V rockets that would eventually carry men to the moon. Although only a mock-up, NASA modified it during the Fair to keep it current with the latest designs for the real thing. (CD #33 Set 171 #9)
While many of the displays featured on the manned spacecraft program, there were also examples of satellite and interplanetary craft. This display showcased the Ranger series of missions to the moon, which sent back detailed photos to be used in choosing possible landing sites for the upcoming Apollo lunar landings. (CD #TBD Set 302 #8)
There were also mockups of possible vehicles, many of which never made it into space. This early "Space Shuttle," for example, was proposed as a way to carry crewmember between spaceships in orbit. It was not intended to land as the actual Space Shuttle would years later. That's the Hall of Science under construction behind it. (CD #TBD Set 341 #14)
When the Fair closed most of the exhibits in the Space Park were donated to the City of New York for the museum planned for the adjacent Hall of Science. The victim of funding disputes, the Space Park was allowed to fall apart, with many of the once impressive displays falling apart due to the elements or succumbing to vandals. By the time this picture was taken in 1987 the area was fenced off, standing as a sad reminder of the Fair's glory days. Happily, funding was later found to restore some of the rockets, but not in time to save the Saturn V mock-up. (CD #2 Set 8 #73)

Want more information on the Space Park?

5-2-64 - Spaceman Cooper Orbits the Fair
5-2-64 - Well, Our Fair's Out of This World
7-8-65 - Gemini 4 to be displayed


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