Challenger Space Center of Arizona move allows for future expansion
After spending 17 years in Peoria, the Challenger Space Center (Center) of Arizona today announced they are in the final stages of securing a new location and their moving date has been extended. Several months ago, KMK, Inc. agreed to sell the Peoria building that housed the Challenger Space Center to the Peoria Unified School District, which presented a significant challenge to the Center.
“We are grateful that there is an understanding of the complexity of this move,” stated Beverly Swayman, Executive Director of the Center. “It’s not the same as moving a home. The current space is 28,000 square feet and contains intricate technology and exhibits, not to mention 17 years of artifacts and memorabilia. It must be moved in a thoughtful, deliberate manner.”
One of the most difficult logistical aspects is moving and reinstalling the simulated flight mission, and figuring out how to move a satellite that hangs 30 feet in the air. It is rumored to have been installed before the roof was completed.
“We’re very close to a decision on exact location, but this is a complicated, time-consuming process. We are entertaining multiple proposals; from cities as well as private individuals and development groups that have come forward with offers of assistance. We want to be thoughtful and thorough in this process to be sure it is a good fit for all entities and offers us the opportunity to grow our programs to serve all students,” Swayman added.
For now, the Center will focus on activating outreach programming until they become fully operational and their simulated mission can be reinstalled. “In addition to our regular outreach experiences, we had already planned new exciting additions for the fall and winter schedule. These new offerings give access to more students that are in areas where travel to our center was impractical. Our goal is to continue teaching with these tools until we open at our new location,” noted Swayman.
“Once the new location is finalized, there are many new programs we plan to implement, including some from our affiliation with the Smithsonian, like NASA’s Universe of Learning. A few of these new programs were launched this past summer at our camps. They were very successful in engaging students with new technologies so we are confident that they will continue to be as a regular part of our schedule,” commented Swayman.
A move of this magnitude comes at significant cost. Many generous donors have stepped forward to add their support but there is still need to get the Center functioning at full capacity. The public is encouraged to invest in the students of this state by donating to this advocate for STEAM education on the Center’s GoFundMe page.