News Releases

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. urging him to strongly consider the Museum of Flight’s bid to permanently house a retired Space Shuttle Orbiter.  In June, the Museum of Flight broke ground on a new 40,000 square foot Space Gallery building with a wing which is designed to house one of the three shuttles being retired by NASA.

“… Washington state has a long history of contributions to human space flight.  The Boeing Company, founded in Seattle almost 100 years ago, built the 747 aircraft which transports the Space Shuttle.  In addition, the Boeing Company is the primary contractor for the International Space Station and is part of the United Space Alliance.  The Pacific Northwest has also been home to more than 25 astronauts, two of whom gave their lives in service to our country. Support for making the Museum of Flight the permanent home for a retired Space Shuttle is widespread and includes the entire Washington Congressional Delegation, the Governor of Washington, the Washington State Legislature, the City of Seattle, the Washington Education Association, local businesses, community members and many others,” wrote Senator Murray.  

Senator Murray is a long-time supporter of the Museum of Flight and its proposal to house a NASA Space Shuttle. In 2008, Murray and her colleagues in the Washington state Congressional delegation signed a letter to former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin supporting the Museum of Flight's shuttle application. Murray has also called Bolden twice regarding the bid. In July, Senator Murray and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited the Aviation High School, which has partnered with the Museum of Flight and is being constructed adjacent to the Museum, to discuss educational innovation and the unique science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program offered by the high school.

The full text of the letter appears below:

The Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
2 Independence Square
300 E Street SW, Room 9F44
Washington, DC  20546 

Dear Administrator Bolden:

I am writing in regards to the retiring of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Shuttle Orbiters. As you know from our previous conversations, I am a strong supporter of the Museum of Flight and their application to secure one of the Space Shuttles.  The Museum of Flight has responded to the requests for information released by NASA in both 2008 and 2010.

The Museum of Flight is a world-renowned air and space museum that is a great source of pride for Washingtonians.  Founded in 1965, the Museum has been accredited by the Association of American Museums since 1986 and was awarded the status of Smithsonian Affiliate in 2007.  The Museum is the largest non-governmental 501(c)(3) air and space museum in the world in gallery size and operating budget, and it continues to expand.  This past June, the Museum of Flight broke ground on a new 40,000 square foot Space Gallery building with a wing which is designed to house a Space Shuttle orbiter.

With over 500,000 visitors each year, including 150,000 students, the Museum of Flight has the largest kindergarten through twelfth grade education program of any air and space museum.  I am proud of the Museum’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs and its innovative partnership with the new Aviation High School, which is being constructed adjacent to the Museum.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and I recently visited the high school and saw firsthand the unique STEM education opportunities that this high school has to offer.  These opportunities to foster creativity, innovation and discovery would only be increased by having a Space Shuttle onsite at the Museum.

As we have discussed, Washington state has a long history of contributions to human space flight.  The Boeing Company, founded in Seattle almost 100 years ago, built the 747 aircraft which transports the Space Shuttle.  In addition, the Boeing Company is the primary contractor for the International Space Station and is part of the United Space Alliance.  The Pacific Northwest has also been home to more than 25 astronauts, two of whom gave their lives in service to our country.

Support for making the Museum of Flight the permanent home for a retired Space Shuttle is widespread and includes the entire Washington Congressional Delegation, the Governor of Washington, the Washington State Legislature, the City of Seattle, the Washington Education Association, local businesses, community members and many others.  These groups have been vocal in their advocacy and are ready to make the significant investments necessary to prepare a Space Shuttle for display and relocation.  NASA has estimated that it will cost $28 million to prepare a shuttle for display and relocation, and that a selected site must bear this cost. 

I am confident that the Museum of Flight offers the location, staff, and facilities necessary to display and maintain a Space Shuttle.  As the Museum will preserve and utilize the Space Shuttle in a manner befitting its significant historical, cultural and educational importance, I ask that you strongly consider the Museum of Flight as a candidate for receiving a Space Shuttle. 

I look forward to continuing to work with you to bring a Space Shuttle home to Washington state.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.