County Council supports Issaquah astronaut’s effort to acquire space shuttle

June 28, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 4:35 p.m. June 28, 2010

King County Council members cleared a space shuttle for landing Monday afternoon.

The council offered support to a push by The Museum of Flight to acquire a decommissioned orbiter. The council approved the ceremonial measure a day before the museum breaks ground on a facility to house a space exhibit and, maybe, a space shuttle.

Issaquah resident and former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar leads the effort to acquire the spacecraft for the Seattle museum.

NASA will retire the three orbiters by next year. Museums across the nation hope to net the shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour. The space agency has promised the shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and state legislators offered support — and $3 million — to help land a shuttle for Washington.

Gregoire and other state leaders will join Dunbar at the museum Tuesday afternoon to break ground on the planned Space Gallery.

Museum leaders touted the facility as a smart choice for a shuttle, because the museum sits amid a population center and adjacent to the type of airfield needed to deliver a shuttle. The museum also talked up the aerospace heritage inherent in the region. In addition, several astronauts hail from the Pacific Northwest, including Dunbar, a Washington native.

“Our region has a rich history of aviation going back to the vision of Bill Boeing,” County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, the prime sponsor of the motion, said in a news release. “The Museum of Flight is a fitting retirement place for one of this nation’s pioneering space shuttles.”

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