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New Challenger License Plate Blasts Off Into Florida Markets

25 June 1999

New Challenger License Plate Blasts Off Into Florida Markets and Launches the Future of Space Education

    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--June 24, 1999-- After a 12-year-orbit around Florida tag offices, the Challenger license plate, the state's first specialty license plate, recently landed and underwent some hardware repair. Now, fresh from a major facelift, the newly redesigned Challenger license plate will launch into the Florida market today with a public unveiling. Actual plates will go on sale Friday, June 25 around the state, with proceeds benefiting space and technology education programs that directly affect Florida teachers and children.
    The revised plate features the Challenger space shuttle orbiting around Earth. "I chose to specifically have the Challenger orbit the Earth as a symbol that this tragic mission has not ended the pursuit of space exploration," said Dean Graves, graphic designer of the Challenger license plate. Graves further explained the orbiting shuttle is situated on the left side of the plate, facing upward and to the right, to symbolize the forward momentum in continuing this pursuit.
    "Inspiration for the design came from a lifetime of memories for me," said Graves, a life-long space enthusiast. "I revisited my collection of space books, magazines and newspaper articles, as well as recalled my emotional state when I learned about the explosion. I believe those seven souls we lost are today serving as the guardian angels of all astronauts. My design is a culmination of all these memories, emotions and beliefs."
    The Challenger license plate was created by the Florida Legislature in 1987 in remembrance of the Challenger space shuttle disaster. The original license plate featured the Challenger space shuttle liftoff. To date, over 655,000 Challenger license plates have been sold in the State of Florida. Proceeds from plate sales continue to benefit The Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF) and the Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA).
    "We are excited about the relaunch of the Challenger license plate because ultimately, we will be able to further the educational development of our children," said Stephen Feldman, Ph.D., president of the AMF. The AMF is a private, non-for-profit organization that honors all U.S. astronauts who have lost their lives while on missions or in training. Through a 50 percent allotment of Challenger license plate sales, the AMF maintains two memorials: The Space Mirror and The Center for Space Education, a 44,000-square-foot-facility at NASA/Kennedy Space Center that provides space education and technology training for educators, as well as demonstration and research programs in instructional technology.
    The remaining 50 percent allotment benefits the Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA), who sponsors programs that enhance education, space research and economic development in Florida.
    "It's been so rewarding to see all of the educational programs that have come into existence as a direct result of funding provided by the Challenger license plate," said Frank Kinney, executive director of the TRDA. "I hope that this new, redesigned plate will spark many Floridians to help us in our quest to take space and technology education into the next millennium."
    To accompany today's public unveiling, the AMF and TRDA will also unveil the "Launch the Future" Challenger license plate campaign. The highlight of the campaign includes a shuttle mobile, featuring a full-size van with a space shuttle on top of the roof. The mobile will make its debut today at the AMF's Center for Space Education, complete with a new Challenger license plate tag. For the next month, this shuttle mobile will make appearances all around the state, along with a personal appearance from various NASA astronauts, to build excitement and spark sales for the new plate.
    Following today's launch, the public is invited to a free "launch party" on Saturday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to noon. The fun-filled family event will feature the following: another unveiling of the redesigned Challenger license plate and "Launch the Future" shuttle mobile; LEGO space shuttle building areas for children; and a live radio remote. In addition, a contest in conjunction with Challenger license plate sales will be unveiled with a grand prize of a trip for four to the Space Coast.
    For more information on the Challenger license plate, contact any State of Florida public tag office.