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All Systems: GO FOR LAUNCH!

Lift-off for the Challenger Learning Center at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering took place on November 6 with a ceremony at the College culminating with the signing of agreements between the College and the Challenger Center Headquarters, and with the Leon County School System, for the implementation and operation of the Tallahassee Center.

The ceremony featured addresses by Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger Commander Dick Scobee, and founder of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, and Vance Ablott, President of Challenger Center. Messages from Lt. Governor-elect Frank Brogan, State Representative Marjorie Turnbull, State University System Vice-chancellor James Mau, FSU Provost Larry Abele and Leon County School Superintendent William Montford followed opening remarks by Dean Chen and College Relations Director and retired astronaut/cosmonaut Norm Thagard.

The Center will be a two story, 34,000 square foot facility to be build adjacent to the College. It will include a space mission simulator with a mock-up of "Mission Control" and the laboratory node of a "Space Station". Additionally, the Center is planning to feature an exhibit hall, planetarium and observatory. The Center's service area will draw 10-15 thousand middle school student each year from North Florida and adjacent areas of Georgia and Alabama. It will also be open to the public and will become a Tallahassee visitors' attraction.

With a $2.5 million appropriation from the Florida Legislature for design and start of construction, and contributions from the City of Tallahassee, Leon County and the Department of Education, the Center is scheduled to open in September 2000.