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NASA MUSEUM MAY LAND IN RIRIE, IDAHO

Ririe residents intend to build a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Museum, starting with a simulator that was used to train astronauts for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.

About 60 people met last month to hear representatives from the Ririe School District and the Ririe Area Economic Development Corp. announce plans to build an $8 million to $10 million space center like those in Houston and Huntsville, Ala.It all started with third-grade teacher Tina Andersen, who has developed a relationship with NASA by using space concepts to make subjects interesting to her students.

The relationship is about to pay off, as NASA is donating a $3 million to $4 million simulator that was used to train astronauts.

"It's gone from, `Let's get this thing here and I'll bet if we just lay it out in a field and put a sign on it, people will come see it,' to having a museum and a theater," said Rob Smith, a Ririe Corporation member.

The plan is to build three domes: one housing a space museum, a theater in another, and a third with a visitor center and space camp where children would perform mock space shuttle missions.

Boosters hope it will be a regional tourist attraction, bringing in revenue and jobs.

The Idaho Travel Council has shown interest in advertising the space museum along with Craters of the Moon National Monument and EBR-1, said DeLayne Adams, corporation treasurer.

The corporation hopes to start work this summer and build at least the first phase, the museum and space camp, within a year. That stage is expected to cost about $300,000 plus in-kind donations.

Destination Cinema of Salt Lake City has told the corporation they would build and operate the $2 million theater, though it is still unclear if the corporation would have to invest in it.

NASA officials told Andersen they would provide traveling exhibits for the museum and she has written several astronauts requesting memorabilia.