HOUSTON, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- The 747 jumbo jet that once ferried NASA's space shuttles back and forth from Houston to Florida in-between and after missions once again has a little extra weigh on its back.
Following a ceremony at Space Center Houston on Thursday morning, a replica shuttle was hoisted and placed atop the retired Shuttle Aircraft Carrier, or SCA. The shuttle-carrying SCA will be unveiled to the public as a museum exhibit in 2015.
SCA, or NASA 905, is the largest intact artifact left behind by the now retired Space Shuttle Program. The jumbo jet carried shuttles 222 times, logging 11,017 flight hours over the course of its impressive 42 years on the job.
The nonprofit space center says it still needs to raise another $2.2 million to properly fund the new exhibit and ensure the space shuttle replica Independence and SCA remain well-preserved. Once open, visitors to the eight-story exhibit will be able to enter and explore each of the two vehicles.
Hundreds of people showed up for the early morning ceremony before the shuttle replica was lifted by a team of engineers and several cranes. The SCA was recently assembled on site after being transported in pieces from Houston's Ellington Field.
Online visitors can watch live as engineers continue to work on the forthcoming exhibit.