It's design was the result of a national architectural competition which drew entries from more than 750 architects. Only the Vietnam Veterans Memorial attracted more design concepts.
The Space Mirror is 42.5 feet high and 50 feet wide and is constructed of mirror-finished granite. It consists of 90 granite panels. There are eighty (80) 5-foot x 5-foot and ten (10) half sized panels. Each full panel is two inches thick and weighs 500 pounds.
The sun's rays are projected through the names of the astronauts, which are engraved through the granite. The letter spaces are filled with crystal clear acrylic, minutely jagged on the front side to diffuse the light. Powerful lights illuminate the astronauts' names 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
On February 7, 2000, The Astronauts Memorial Foundation unveiled a new 6-foot by 6-foot granite wall that showcases the photos and biographies of the 17 U.S. astronauts depicted on the giant Space Mirror Memorial at that time. The bio wall serves as a complement to the Space Mirror Memorial and gives visitors an opportunity to put a face on these heroes and learn about their exemplary contributions. In 2003, the names of the seven Columbia astronauts were added to a second biographic wall, adjacent to the original wall.