No space for space artifacts, Huntsville Times
"There has been criticism about the way some of the space center's artifacts have been handled, chiefly a one-of-a-kind Skylab trainer - basically a full-size mock-up of NASA's first space station. The trainer was left exposed to weather for years."
Skylab not forgotten, say center officials, Huntsville Times
"Hancock and the volunteer group started to restore the Skylab trainer a year ago and, after working many weekends, "we felt it was about 80 percent back in good condition. There was still some work needed, painting and such, but we had made a lot of progress." Then the project was shut down in December. "We were never given an official reason," Hancock said. "We came out and the locks had been changed." Capps said there were liability concerns when volunteers work on a restoration project as complex as the Saturn V or Skylab restoration."
Editor's note: So let me get this straight: the Skylab trainer hardware has been allowed to sit outside for years and rot by the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC). The USSRC did nothing to preserve the hardware except throw a tarp over it. A group of concerned citizens organized and donated their own time and money to try and halt the destruction and preserve the hardware. After their efforts show some results (and made the USSRC look bad) the USSRC thinks that the volunteers were doing something wrong and locks them out. And now the hardware continues to rot and yet the USSRC does nothing but try to look concerned. This is pathetic. It is also a rotten way to say "thank you" to volunteers who sought to do the job that USSRC has clearly failed to do i.e. to preserve the articfacts that have been entrusted to it.
According to earmarks (pork) inserted ito NASA FY 2008 Appropriations, Sen. Shelby the USSRC is due to get $500,000 for "completion of a long overdue update for the museum and exhibits". Perhaps the USSRC could publicly state that this project will be at the top of the list of things to beneft from this influx of funds - and that the first priority will be to cover the hardware (properly) such that "birds and rodents" no longer live inside it.
The photo below (taken 48 hours ago) shows the extent of deterioration that the USSRC allows to persist . If the USSRC thinks that it is OK to let things get this bad ... Oh yes, according to a local resident, "those pieces are sitting outside the fence. Anybody can just pop up and get at them."