No theme song accompanied Tuesday's shuttle announcement ceremony at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, but Stephen Stills' "Love the One You’re With" would have worked nicely.
Moments after NASA administrator Charles Bolden announced that the museum would not get one of four retired space shuttles, museum officials were singing the praises of what they will get instead: a full-size plywood mock-up of the shuttle, used by astronauts for training.
“This isn’t a consolation prize,” said Douglas King, the museum’s president and CEO. “This is something very exciting.”
Elden Larson, a retired B17 pilot who works as a volunteer at the museum, went further. “I’m not disappointed,” Larson said. “I think we won. You and me and everybody else will be able to actually get inside the mock-up and go through it and touch stuff.
“If we’d gotten a real shuttle, it would be hanging up, out of reach.”
The lack of visual disappointment at the ceremony was remarkable, considering the effort expended over the past 10 years to bring a real shuttle to Washington State.
The efforts included enlisting the help of Gov. Chris Gregoire and the entire congressional delegation, as well as construction of a $12 million, 15,500-square-foot “Space Gallery” across the street from the existing museum – for which the state pitched in $3 million.
Last September, a specially created Space Shuttle flag was hoisted to the top of the Space Needle to demonstrate statewide tourism support for bringing one of the shuttles here.
There was audible intake of breath among the approximately 200 museum staff members, volunteers and board members gathered in the museum’s atrium when Bolden announced that the California Science Center in Los Angeles was getting the shuttle Endeavour. That was unexpected.
But there were otherwise no gasps or slapping of brows as Bolden completed the list: the shuttle Atlantis will go to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; the Smithsonian will get the Discovery; and New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will get the test shuttle Enterprise.