NASA 905's handover

On Aug. 22, 2013, Space Center Houston officially took over the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905. In a ceremony held at Ellington Airport, local officials, NASA Johnson Space Center leadership and Space Center Houston leadership gathered for the handover.

It was the first step in a momentous process that brought Independence Plaza to life. NASA 905 had just retired, spending its last missions shuttling Space Shuttle orbiters to their final resting spots across the country. After an airshow brought it to Ellington, Space Center Houston signed an agreement to take possession from NASA.

That wasn’t the end of the task. Soon, the Boeing 747 would be dismantled and carried down Highway 3 to the center. The Big Move was a phenomenal undertaking and was followed by raising the shuttle replica Independence on top of NASA 905 and then the creation of Independence Plaza.

Less than three years after taking ownership of this colossal aircraft, Independence Plaza opened Jan. 25, 2016.

Here are some more photos from the very special day when NASA 905 came home.

Group photo at NASA 905's handover

Ellen Ochoa holds NASA 905's wing gear pin

The shuttle carrier aircraft

NASA 905's wing gear pin

A crowd gathered to witness the arrival of the shuttle carrier aircraft

In the cockpit of NASA 905

Inside NASA 905