Arizona Challenger Space Center Will Close Next Month

Courtesy of Challenger Space Center

A Phoenix-area facility dedicated to teaching children and adults about the wonders of the universe is closing in August.

But the Arizona Challenger Space Center is hoping to reopen in a different location in the Valley of the Sun, its executive director, Beverly Swayman, told ABC 15 earlier this month. The center's current 28,000-square-foot building, in Peoria, has been sold. The center's last day of operations will be August 5.

Swayman said the space center has been in talks with Peoria, Glendale and Phoenix about finding a new home. It also plans to ask for the public's help with relocation costs, which could be in the neighborhood of $1 million, Swayman said.

The facility, which is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, opened in 2000 and pays tribute to the seven astronauts killed in the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. Its attractions include a flight simulator, satellite exhibits and models, and memorabilia from past space missions. It also hosts school field trips, teacher workshops, summer camps and family stargazing nights.

Also at the space center is a 360-degree mural by Robert McCall, a prolific and renowned space artist who was based in Arizona. According to the center, the mural was the last one painted by the artist before he died in 2010. It won't be possible to move the mural to a new facility, Swayman said.

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