A major new attraction is coming to Space Center Houston that's expected to draw many more visitors to one of the city's most visited places.

A full-size replica of the Space Shuttle Orbiter is set to arrive on June 1, kicking off what Space Center is calling "Shuttlebration Weekend."

The orbiter replica is traveling from Kennedy Space Center in Florida by boat. When it arrives in Texas it will take a couple days to get it from the dock in nearby Galveston Bay to its new home in front of Space Center Houston. 

Center officials say the replica will be visible from the start, but will not be accessible to the public until work is completed on the new $3 million exhibit this fall.  Once it is fully installed and prepared for visitors, the public will be able to go inside the full-size replica as part of a behind-the-scenes look at life inside the Space Shuttle, an experience that will only be available at Space Center Houston.

On average 750,000 people visit Space Center annually, making it the most-visited local attraction, according to the state tourism office. Officials at the center expect the new shuttle replica will draw more visitors, though they have not offered a concrete projection.

"NASA's Space Shuttle changed the way we all think about space, making it more accessible, understandable and useful," says Richard Allen, president of Space Center Houston. "It is our intent to continue that legacy with this exciting new attraction, which will offer a one-of-a-kind visitor experience that will engage, educate and inspire the next generation of explorers."

"Shuttlebration Weekend" begins on the afternoon of Friday, June 1, when the replica will arrive by barge at the Johnson Space Center NASA Road 1 dock on Clear Lake near the Nassau Bay Hilton hotel. This will be the largest item to arrive at the dock since the Saturn V arrived for display in 1977.

The public is invited to a free street party between the dock and the hotel to witness and celebrate the historic arrival. The street party will include exhibits and static displays of new technologies and space vehicles that are being developed for the future of exploration, as well as local marching bands, food and entertainment.

On Saturday, June 2, the Space Shuttle replica will be loaded onto a mobile transfer vehicle for transport to Space Center Houston. The lakeside load-out will take a full day to complete. No public events are planned.

Early in the morning on Sunday, June 3, the replica will make a three-hour trek down NASA Parkway from the Hilton to its permanent home at Space Center Houston. It will receive a futuristic VIP escort from JSC's prototype planetary rovers for future solar system exploration. Upon the replica's arrival, Space Center Houston, along with the Johnson Space Center, will host a free public celebration in its parking lot from 9 a.m. to noon. The family-oriented event will include more opportunities to see the Shuttle attraction up close, and to get a look at the latest ongoing developments in space exploration taking place at JSC.

Since it opened to the public in 1992, Space Center Houston has welcomed more than 14 million visitors from around the world and generated more than $300 million in revenue.