Press Release

Space Center Houston Is Houston’s First Smithsonian Affiliate

By SpaceRef Editor
October 8, 2014
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October Is Month of Historic ‘Firsts’ in Space HOUSTON, Oct. 8, 2014 – It’s another first for Houston and Space Center Houston as the nonprofit museum becomes the first Smithsonian Affiliate in the city. The center celebrates a “month of firsts” by opening a new exhibition today about the first voyages into deep space.

The new status grants access to the national archive of more than 138 million artifacts, specimens and works of art, as well as entree to more than 50 traveling exhibitions developed by the Smithsonian Institution.

“We are delighted to launch our first Houston affiliate partnership with Space Center Houston, an organization that has done so much to honor and preserve the history of space flight,” said Harold A. Closter, Smithsonian Affiliations director.  “This new partnership builds on a solid foundation of prior collaboration, artifact loans and scholarly exchange and will address ways that we can work together to inspire a new generation to dream, explore, and further the boundaries of knowledge.”

The national recognition and exposure for Space Center Houston is expected to increase annual visits, boosting the center’s current $45 million annual impact on the greater Houston area. In addition, Houstonians can look forward to Smithsonian exhibitions and programs.

“Space Center Houston is proud to be the first Smithsonian affiliate in Houston,” said Richard E. Allen Jr., president and CEO of Space Center Houston. “This is a result of our continuous dedication to preserving the unique history of space exploration and sharing NASA’s bold vision to expand humanity’s presence into deep space. This affiliation will help us to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration.”

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park. Learn more at

The “month of firsts” launches with The Next Giant Leap: Beyond Planet Earth, presented by the City of Webster. Open today, this all new exhibition explores how humanity will take its first steps towards living and working in deep space, independent of the Earth.  This is the first exhibition of the center’s “Next Giant Leap” 2014-15 season of educational programs and exhibits aligned with NASA’s deep-space exploration initiatives.

October is the month of many historic firsts in space. During past Octobers, both NASA (1958) and Space Center Houston (1992) began operations and launches occurred of the first satellite Sputnik I (1957), the first NASA satellite Pioneer 1 (1958) and NASA’s first crewed Apollo mission (Apollo 7, 1968).

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Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums, educational, and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. More information is available at

The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit space museum with an extensive science education program. The cornerstone of its science education mission is Space Center Houston, which USA Today called “The Big Draw” in the greater Houston area with nearly 800,000 visitors annually and a $45 million economic impact on the greater Houston area. It is the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and draws more than 100,000 teachers and students annually from around the world. For more information, go to

SpaceRef staff editor.