OLEAN - A large model of the Challenger Space Shuttle now greets visitors to the Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center in Allegany. The shuttle replica, built by employees of CUTCO Cutlery Corp., was recently installed as a permanent display at the facility.
Originally constructed for the Santa Claus Lane parade, the 50-pound shuttle replica has an 8-foot wingspan and is more than 13 feet long. It's built 10 percent to scale of the actual shuttle.
"It was very satisfying to build something that, in the end, looked as good as it did," said Dick Messer of Olean, one of the volunteers who worked on the project. "Early on I had my doubts about whether it was going to work out or not."
A replica of the Challenger Space Shuttle is installed on permanent display at the Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center.
The impressive replica is made of Luan plywood and rigid foam insulation and took Messer about a month to build. But he didn't do it alone. Dan Pikulski of Allegany made the rocket engine cones and helped Messer build the payload bay doors.
Pikulski also created the decals, and Paul Majot of Ceres built the payload. Rob Jackson and his 14-year-old son, Thomas, of Hinsdale and Larry Penman of Allegany helped Messer and Pikulski paint the model.
The Challenger shuttle replica is suspended from the ceiling at the entrance of the Center next to a flight suit that was donated by astronaut Pam Melroy, a Rochester native.
The Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center is located on East Union Street in Allegany, on annexed property owned by St. Bonaventure University.
The Center conducts simulated space missions for students to spark an interest in math, science and technology. The facility also hosts public missions and is available for corporate events. For more information visit, www.twintierclc.com or call 716-379-8686.