Museum of Flight Names New Space Gallery in Honor of Charles Simonyi

On Thursday, Dec. 8, the Museum of Flight announced its new state-of-the-art, 15,500-square-foot space gallery will be named the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery in honor of Charles Simonyi, two-time space traveler, architect of Microsoft Word and founder of Intentional Software in Bellevue. Simonyi, who gifted $3 million to the $12 million building, also announced on Thursday that he is giving MOF – on a long-term loan – the Soyuz TMA-13 rocket module that carred him back from space in 2009, on his second trip to the International Space Station. Along with the Soyuz, Simonyi will be donating a space toilet and other artifacts that were part of his well documented and much followed trips to space.

Charles Simonyi and his wife, Lisa Persdotter Simonyi, after the
unveiling of the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery sign

“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 of Flight. “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.”

The Charles Simonyi Space Gallery will be the home of the Full-Fuselage Space Shuttle Trainer (FFT), which will be delivered in NASA’s Guppy airplane in various stages, beginning in June. The FFT is only one of its kind in the world and is the simulator in which every space shuttle astronaut trained for space flight. In addition to the Shuttle Trainer and the Soyuz module, there will be other rare space artifacts, both permanent and on tour – all part of this premier Space Gallery, to engage the next generation of scientists and engineers through hands-on learning.

Charles Simonyi in one of the many artifacts he loans
to The Museum of Flight, his spacesuit

“The naming of the space gallery is a great honor for me and for my family,” said Simonyi. “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.”

“We are so honored by Charles’ generosity,” said MOF Chairman of the Board, Michael Hallman, himself a major donor. “His level of monetary and intellectual commitment will help to propel this Museum into an exciting future of continued leadership in educating and inspiring legions of young people to pursue and live their dreams.”

The Charles Simonyi Space Gallery dedication was the beginning of a three-day experience at The Museum of Flight, followed by the 2011 Future Forum hosted by NASA on Friday, which featured panel discussions covering everything from innovation and discovery to commercial partnerships, education in space flight, and more. In addition, the space gallery was open to the public on Saturday to provide a sneak peek of what the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery will feature when it officially opens in June 2012, after the delivery of the Full Fuselage Space Shuttle Trainer. The doors of the space gallery will continue to be open to the public to view the future site of space artifacts. For more information on the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery hours of operation, please visit The Museum of Flight’s website.