The new Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at Seattle’s Museum of Flight has landed a cool new artifact: the Soyuz-TMA-13 reentry module that brought Simonyi back from a space tourist trip to the International Space Station in 2009. The announcement was made this morning at a ceremony naming the new space gallery for the high-tech pioneer and philanthropist, who kicked in $3 million of the $12 million cost to build it.
“The naming of the space gallery is a great honor for me and for my family,” said Simonyi in a news release. “I have the highest regard for the Museum of Flight and now that we are at the threshold of a great expansion of civilian spaceflight, I fully support the museum’s efforts to engage the public on the issue of space exploration with a focus on civilian space: past, present and future.”
The gallery was built as part of an effort to convince NASA to retire one of its space shuttles to Seattle. That hope was scuttled last spring, but the museum was awarded NASA Full-Fuselage Trainer as a consolation prize. The FFT, in which all shuttle astronauts trained for their missions, the Soyuz module, and other artifacts from Simonyi will be the centerpieces of the new gallery’s permanent display, expected to open in late spring.
Visitors to the museum can check out a new temporary exhibit that opens on Saturday. Many space-themed activities are on tap.
“This imposing new Charles Simonyi Space Gallery could not have become a reality without Dr. Simonyi’s continued support for The Museum of Flight and his vision about what our future can hold,” said Doug King, President and CEO of the museum. “While we are grateful for his monetary contribution, we truly named the space gallery in honor of Charles to recognize his commitment to aerospace education and his tireless enthusiasm for inspiring the next generation of space explorers.”