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Tabatha Thompson
Headquarters, Washington

Beth Bishop
Saint Louis Science Center

March 24, 2008
RELEASE : 08-087
NASA Deputy Administrator and Missouri Lt. Gov. Discuss Benefits of Space Exploration at St. Louis Future Forum
ST. LOUIS - NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder discussed how space exploration gives Missourians a more competitive economy and better quality of life Tuesday during a NASA Future Forum in St. Louis. The event, which was part of a yearlong series of events across the country marking NASA's 50th anniversary, took place at the Saint Louis Science Center.

Other NASA participants included astronauts Carl Walz and Thomas Jones. Walz, director of the Advanced Capabilities Division in NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington, discussed the agency's plans to return to the moon and travel beyond.

Missouri has a rich, diverse history in the nation's space program. Astronaut Robert Behnken, a graduate of Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights, returns to Earth Wednesday aboard space shuttle Endeavour after a 16-day mission to the International Space Station. Nine other current and former astronauts have ties to Missouri.

"I am honored to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA," said Kinder. "Missouri has played a fundamental role in the continued efforts of space exploration. Fifty years ago, the Mercury space capsules were developed and built here in St. Louis, helping put the first American into space. Today, NASA invests over $12 million in contracts here in the Show-Me State thanks to innovative product development and research by Missouri businesses and universities. Missouri astronauts like Major Robert Behnken of St. Louis continue to inspire and motivate our children to pursue higher education opportunities. I am grateful for our relationship with NASA, and our joint dedication in fostering a greater pursuit of excellence in generations to come."

The panel featured open discussions among NASA representatives and Missouri academic and commercial groups regarding the future of space exploration.

"The future of space exploration is one of the most important science-related issues discussed in our society," said Doug King, president and CEO of the Saint Louis Science Center. "We are honored to be a part of that dialogue as one of the few esteemed sites selected to host a NASA Future Forum to celebrate the agency's 50th anniversary."

The St. Louis Future Forum was sponsored in part by Boeing, Chicago; Raytheon, Waltham, Mass; the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jefferson City, Mo; the Information Technology Coalition, Jefferson City; Missouri Space Grant Consortium at the University of Missouri, Rolla; Innovate St. Louis; and Washington University, St. Louis.

For complete biographical information about Dale, visit:

For more information about the Saint Louis Science Center, visit:

For more information on NASA's 50th Anniversary Future Forums, visit:

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