Museum of Flight and tourism bureaus fly flag to show statewide support for Shuttle
SEATTLE, September 29, 2010 – The Seattle Museum of Flight and representatives from the Washington state tourism industry today raised a specially-created Space Shuttle flag to the top of the Space Needle to demonstrate statewide tourism support for bringing one of the three retiring United States Space Shuttles to Washington state.
Joining Interim Museum of Flight President Mike Hallman and retired astronaut and Wings Over Washington CEO Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar at the flag raising event were representatives from Washington State Tourism and the Convention and Visitors Bureaus of Bellingham, Kitsap Peninsula, Seattle, Seattle Southside, Spokane Valley, Tacoma and Yakima Valley.
In the news conference held just before the flag was raised, Dr. Dunbar, who is leading the effort to bring a Space Shuttle to Washington state, spoke about the importance of the Shuttle exhibit and the significant impact it would have on Washington state as a worldwide leader in space travel and exploration.
“A Space Shuttle at the Museum of Flight would encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers to not only continue space exploration, but to design and build the spacecraft of the future and pave the way for the next significant scientific discovery,” said Dr. Dunbar.
During the news conference, representatives from the Washington state tourism bureau explained how a Space Shuttle would not only give Washington state a one-of-a-kind educational tool, but that it would also boost tourism and the economy statewide.
“In addition to inspiring our youth and growing our future workforce, bringing a Space Shuttle to Washington state will offer a major boost to the state economy,” said Tom Norwalk president and CEO of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are proud to help promote this through our tourism bureaus statewide.”
“The excitement generated by the acquisition of a Space Shuttle would attract many more visitors, of all ages, from all over the world and would increase revenue for hotels, restaurants and other businesses throughout Washington,” said John Cooper, president and CEO of the Yakima Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are very excited to be part of this effort.”
In June, the Museum of Flight broke ground on the first phase of its new 15,500-square-foot “Human Space Flight Gallery.” The Space Gallery, costing approximately $12 million, will be located on the west side of East Marginal Way, across the street from the main museum campus. The State legislature earlier approved $3 million in capital support to build the Gallery, with the remaining coming from private foundations and individual donations. While a decision has not yet been made on where these Shuttles will retire, having a climate-controlled building in place for the Space Shuttle is among the requirements that NASA established in its 2008 and 2009 Requests for Information (RFI) to the public.
The final decision from NASA on which museums around the nation will be awarded a Shuttle is dependent on several criteria in addition to having a climate controlled building. NASA’s principle focus is on K-12 education and inspiration to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers. Other requirements for the applying institutions include a commitment to educate the public through demonstrated experience in exhibit and display development, a sufficiently long enough runway on which to land the 747 that will carry the Shuttles to their ultimate destinations, and being located near a large metropolitan area. “We believe we are uniquely qualified in all of these areas,” Dunbar said.
About the Museum of Flight
The non-profit Museum of Flight is one of the largest independent air and space museums in the world. The Museum’s collection includes more than 85 historically significant air- and spacecraft, as well as the Red Barn® — the original manufacturing facility of the Boeing Co. The Museum’s aeronautical library and archival holdings are the largest on the West Coast. More than 120,000 students are served annually by the Museum’s on-site and outreach educational programs — the most extensive museum-based youth aviation and space education program in the country. The Museum is the only air and space museum in Washington State that is both nationally accredited with the American Association of Museums and a Smithsonian affiliate.
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