- Press Release
- Oct 31, 2023
Space Center Houston’s Galaxy Gala Celebrated to the Moon and Beyond, Major Exhibit Announced
It was an evening showcasing innovation and science learning opportunities to further the next generation of explorers at May 9, led by co-chairs Peggy Kostial with Shanell and Walker Moody.
The interstellar evening included the announcement of an exciting new exhibit to Space Center Houston by SpaceX – a Falcon 9 first stage booster. The booster launched in June 2017 in support of the commercial resupply mission (CRS-11) and performed a successful landing back on Earth. When the booster was flown a second time in December 2017 (CRS-13), it marked the first time a refurbished booster was used for a NASA mission.
The booster will be displayed horizontally, allowing guests to walk underneath the flown rocket. It’s one of only two SpaceX Falcon 9 boosters on display and the first commercial space exhibit for Space Center Houston. The new exhibit is planned to open this summer.
“We’re excited to welcome Falcon 9 to our growing center,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space exploration learning center. “It’s part of an historic achievement designing a reusable rocket to further space exploration and America’s commercial space industry. The new exhibit is one way we’re interpreting the future of human spaceflight. We are deeply grateful to SpaceX for their contribution.”
It was an evening melding innovation, technology and science learning. Surrounded by engaging space and science learning experiences, guests participated in virtual reality and got up-close to a Nova-C lunar lander model designed by Intuitive Machines to support NASA’s mission to return to the Moon. This was one of the first times the full-scale model was on display.
The nonprofit science and space exploration learning center gala raised nearly $700,000 for the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation Thursday night at The Ballroom at Bayou Place. Proceeds from the Galaxy Gala support the nonprofit’s serving youth and educators from around the world with exceptional science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning experiences. Those programs supported include opportunities for underserved youth to explore space and science learning through Title 1 school field trips and participate in a premier robotics competition, space-themed camp-out for military families and scholarships for students to participate in Space Center Houston’s Space Center University, a hands-on engineering design program.
“We strive to inspire youth to be part of the NASA mission,” said Harris. “From launching a rocket to designing a future spacecraft, we want everyone to have exceptional learning opportunities and to think outside the box like a scientist, engineer or astronaut. Thank you to our generous sponsors and donors whose contributions help us provide authentic learning experiences to people of all ages.”
A highlight of the evening included celebrating and honoring longtime Space Center Houston board member and supporter Fred Griffin, chairman of Griffin Partners Inc. “We are so very thankful for Fred’s extraordinary leadership, dedication and exceptional support contributing to the success of Space Center Houston,” said Harris.
Galaxy Gala guests mix-and-mingled, enjoyed a chance to see and interact with cutting edge innovations close-up and experienced an electrifying live performance by Lightwire Theater. Using puppetry-based creatures, the performance brought art, theater and technology to life on stage.
Star-studded guests included Betsy and Fred Griffin, Dan and Kim Tutcher, Keith and Alice Mosing, Dot and Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham and more.
The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space exploration learning center with extensive educational programs. Space Center Houston is the cornerstone of its mission to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. The center draws more than one million visitors annually, was named “the Best Museum in Texas” by USA Today and generates a $73 million annual economic impact in the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center and a Certified Autism Center. More than 250,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to experience our educational space museum with more than 400 things to see and do. For more information, go to