August 13, 2008

Air Force Museum Gets $14M for New Building That Would House Shuttle ; Space Shuttle Would Be Placed on Exhibit If NASA Gives Them One, Museum Says.

By John Nolan Staff Writer

DAYTON -- Supporters of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force have raised about $14 million of the $42 million needed for a planned building that would house a space shuttle, if NASA gives the museum one after the shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.

The envisioned 200,000-square-foot building at the museum would house a Space Gallery, presidential aircraft interpretive center and a Global Reach Gallery to display large aircraft including the Air Force's C-141, KC-135 and C-5. The Air Force Museum Foundation's fundraising for what would be the museum's fourth building is ongoing.

"If the space shuttle were to become available, it would be placed on exhibit in the museum's proposed Space Gallery," museum spokeswoman Diana Bachert said in an e-mailed update Friday, Aug. 8.

President Bush has directed that the space shuttle fleet be retired in 2010, to be replaced by a rocket that NASA is developing with the goal of ultimately carrying humans to the moon and beyond.

The Air Force made a formal request to NASA in February 2006 for a shuttle orbiter to display at the Air Force museum and is awaiting the outcome of that request, according to Bachert.

"No decisions have been made and no formal discussions are taking place at this time," NASA spokesman John Yembrick said in a e- mailed statement Thursday. "NASA has not yet set the criteria for the final disposition of the orbiters."

Details of how the retired shuttles would be transported to their new homes and who would pay for that transport are yet to be determined.

In recognition of the Air Force museum's expertise in preserving the legacy of historic aircraft, NASA has talked with museum officials about aircraft storage to learn more about the criteria for those interested in obtaining a shuttle, Yembrick wrote.

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About the space shuttle

The shuttle fleet is scheduled for retirement on Sept. 30, 2010. NASA's current schedule calls for launch of the last shuttle flight, STS-133, on May 31, 2010.

Three orbiters remain: Discovery (first flight Aug. 30, 1984), Atlantis (first flight Oct. 3, 1985), and Endeavour (first flight May 7, 1992).

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