Invented by aerospace engineer and entrepreneur Robert Citron, SPACEHAB was initially conceived as a way for tourists to travel into space aboard the shuttles. Though NASA didn’t allow SPACEHAB to be used for space tourism, SPACEHAB was the first payload component developed by a private business that humans could occupy in space.
When installed in the orbiter’s payload bay, the SPACEHAB Logistics Module (called the SPACEHAB) serves as a kind of astronauts' workshop. SPACEHAB gave astronauts extra living space aboard the shuttle, as well as room to do science and store supplies and tools. A tunnel connected the pressurized SPACEHAB to the orbiter’s crew compartment, so astronauts could reach it—and work inside it—without putting on spacesuits. On some missions, two modules were flown together to make a SPACEHAB Logistics Double Module, providing more room for experiments and storage.
SPACEHAB modules flew on the shuttle 18 times, and the first and last SPACEHAB missions were flown on Endeavour. On many missions, NASA stocked SPACEHAB with equipment for delivery to Mir or the International Space Station. SPACEHAB also carried experiments for international space agencies, universities, and corporations, including experiments to test materials for improved contact lenses, develop better medicines to fight diseases, and produce crystals for use in advanced electronics. On one flight, SPACEHAB even carried an experiment intended to test the flavor and carbonation of Coca-Cola® in space.
The Science Center's SPACEHAB module was donated by Astrotech Corporation.