The three Kent-built Apollo Lunar Rover Vehicles – which are still parked on the moon – were officially designated as Washington State Historical Landmarks on Friday afternoon, Oct. 23, 2020.
The Washington State Governor’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation met virtually in a Zoom webinar, discussed the merits of Kent’s nomination, then voted unanimously 9-0 to approve the landmark designation.
Last year, the Lunar Roving Vehicles that were built at the Boeing Space Center were nominated for designation as State Historic Landmarks after achieving local landmark status in July, 2019. These high-tech electric buggies were used in Apollo Missions 15, 16 and 17 in 1971 and 1972, and helped astronauts explore more of the Moon’s surface.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said that the rovers give the city a sense of “immense pride for our community and show the innovation that went on and continues in Kent.” She mentioned how the city continues to innovate, through Blue Origin and its recent projects, which include eventually sending people back to the moon.
“It’s also served as an inspiration to our young students,” Ralph added. “And this is a recognition of ingenuity and innovation that gives us an opportunity to tell this historic story.”
Also speaking at the online meeting were the project’s Campaign Director Michelle Wilmot, Harris Atkins, a Boeing engineer who worked on the rover project, Boeing historian Mike Lombardi, Matt Hayes of the Museum of Flight, Eugenia Woo of Historic Seattle, historic preservationist Michael Sean Sullivan and others.
“Thank you for the consideration, and we are very proud of the work done in the space race here in Kent,” Councilmember Satwinder Kaur said. “We appreciate your support in this nomination. Thank you for the work you do.”
“Thanks to all who logged in to cheer us on, submit letters, provide testimony and celebrate this history-making endeavor,” Wilmot said. “It was truly a team effort that wouldn’t have come together without the excellent contributions by so many. You know who you are – thank you so much!”
Washington is now the third state in the country, along with California and New Mexico, to have objects on the Moon named as historic landmarks.
Having the Lunar Rovers listed on our state’s register of historic places is a way to not only profile our state’s role in NASA’s historic Apollo Program, but also its continuing role in space exploration.
“Thank you for your help honoring the incredible work done by so many in our state. You’re helping to inspire today’s kids to pursue the out-of-this world opportunities available to them – right here in Washington,” Wilmot added.