Science
2:36 pm
Fri March 4, 2011

Will Seattle get a space shuttle?

April 12 is the day we'll learn if the Puget Sound region will become home to one of NASA's retiring space shuttles. There are 27 institutions vying for the three orbiters, and Seattle's Museum of Flight is one of the contenders.

NASA Administrator Charles Boldin revealed the April 12 deadline before a House committee hearing this week. April 12 marks the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch. It's also the 50th anniversary of the first human voyage into space. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed a full orbit around the earth in 108 minutes aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 on April 12, 1961.

The Museum of Flight is building a new 15,500-sq.-ft. space gallery. The first wall of the new facility was raised this week. A shuttle would be the centerpiece of an exhibit about the space shuttle program and the future of space travel.

The Museum's bid for a space shuttle has the support of the state's entire Congressional delegation, the Legislature and the Governor. Congressman Norm Dicks says, "We are cautiously optimistic. As a delegation, we have worked this effort as diligently and thoroughly as possible. We have our fingers crossed!"