To the moon! The Space Shuttle Atlantis

Like kids penning the ultimate Dear Santa letter, Washington state’s entire congressional delegation (both senators, all nine representatives) wrote to the head of NASA yesterday to request that Seattle’s Museum of Flight be given one of the program’s retiring space shuttle orbiters.

They have all sorts of reasons why we deserve our very own Atlantis, Endeavour, or Enterprise. For one thing, the Museum of Flight is currently building space for Aviation High School, part of the public Highline School District that’s been transient since its creation in 2004—and kids at a high school like that need a kickass mascot, right? (If someone would just start an underwater high school, there would be one hell of a rivalry week prank war.) Plus, the letter claims, Seattle is already clearing a $12 million space for the historic artifact: “The Museum of Flight has begun constructing a state-of the-art Space Gallery to house a Shuttle Orbiter, and will be the first museum besides the National Air and Space Museum to be ready to receive a retired Shuttle.” See a computer-animated video of the proposed space at museumofflight.org.

There are 27 different sites across the country vying to live out their Space Camp fantasies; NASA administrator Charles Bolden will announce the winners on April 12, but you can sign a petition to make our voice a little louder down there.

UPDATED 4/13/11. Admission to the Museum of Flight is FREE on Saturday, April 16. It’s a thank you to the community for supporting its push for a spaceship. We’ll take it.

UPDATED 4/14/11 Though the Museum of Flight was not awarded one of the retired orbiters (they went to NYC, DC, LA, and Kennedy Space Center in Florida), the new Space Gallery won’t be empty. The full fuselage trainer, used to familiarize astronauts with the space shuttle without getting their grimy fingerprints on the real deal, will be on display in the gallery. Unlike the real shuttles on display, the trainer will be open to visitors to touch and board.

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