Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and U.S Representatives Jay Inslee (D-01), Rick Larsen (D-02), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-03), Doc Hastings (R-04), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-05), Norm Dicks (D-06), Jim McDermott (D-07), Dave Reichert (R-08), and Adam Smith (D-09) sent a letter to Charles F. Bolden, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), urging him to select Washington state's Museum of Flight as the home for the retired NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter.
"The Museum of Flight is a source of pride to all of us in Washington state and we are confident that no other facility in the world can match the Museum's ability to preserve and utilize an orbiter in a manner befitting its historical importance," the delegation members wrote in the letter. " We are confident that the Museum of Flight is an ideal home for a Space Shuttle Orbiter. These important national artifacts deserve to be well cared for in a historically-relevant environment, to have their history told accurately and in an engaging manner, and to inspire the next generation of aerospace workers. No facility is better suited than the Museum of Flight."
The full text of the letter follows:
April 6, 2011
The Honorable Charles F. Bolden
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
2 Independence Square, 300 E Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20546
Dear Administrator Bolden:
We are writing in support of the Museum of Flight's application to secure a NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter and to commend you on your resolve to ensure a fair and balanced selection process.
Our enthusiastic support of the Museum of Flight as a top candidate to receive one of the retiring Space Shuttles has been unwavering. The Museum of Flight is truly first in class in reputation and museum leadership, and has an unwavering dedication to its educational mission. The facility has been an outstanding curator to some of our nation's most significant aerospace accomplishments. The Museum of Flight is a source of pride to all of us in Washington state and we are confident that no other facility in the world can match the Museum's ability to preserve and utilize an orbiter in a manner befitting its historical importance.
As you know, the Museum of Flight believes its paramount duty is to provide high-quality educational opportunities for its visitors. To that end, we are pleased to report that construction will begin this year on the new Aviation High School to be located on the Museum's campus. Thanks to the support of the Boeing Company, Alaska Airlines, the Highline Public School District, and other private, state and local stakeholders, this amazing facility will become a reality. Additionally, the Museum of Flight has begun constructing a state-of the-art Space Gallery to house a Shuttle Orbiter, and will be the first museum besides the National Air and Space Museum to be ready to receive a retired Shuttle. It goes without saying what an impact a Shuttle display will have on these students who will become the astronauts, scientists and engineers of tomorrow.
For many years, Washington state and the Museum of Flight have been working toward the goal of securing a retired Space Shuttle to display as a testament to Washington's steadfast commitment and dedication to the aviation and aeronautics industry since its inception. In 2005, when President Bush first announced the Shuttle retirement plan, the Museum immediately contacted NASA about securing one of these historic artifacts. Since then, communities throughout Washington, as well as state and local government leaders, have voiced strong support for the Museum's effort. While editorial pages of newspapers throughout the state have echoed this support, the key ingredient has been everyday people who eagerly share their excitement with their friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
As you know, Washington state has played a critical role in the Space Shuttle program. That is why we are very excited to join the Museum of Flight this month in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the NASA Shuttle program. Your personal contributions to this important chapter in Washington's history are not lost on us, and we thank you for your many years of public service.
Finally, as your decision-making process comes to a close, please know that you have our sincere thanks for your efforts to ensure a fair, merit-based selection process. It goes without saying that there has recently been a tremendous amount of attention paid to the retirement of the Space Shuttle Orbiters and we commend your resolve to maintain a dignified selection process. In the final days of this effort, we have one request: if there are any new criteria by which the applicants will be judged, we would appreciate having that information immediately so that the Museum of Flight has the opportunity to respond appropriately.
We are confident that the Museum of Flight is an ideal home for a Space Shuttle Orbiter.
These important national artifacts deserve to be well cared for in a historically-relevant environment, to have their history told accurately and in an engaging manner, and to inspire the next generation of aerospace workers. No facility is better suited than the Museum of Flight.