Atlantis lifts off. (NASA photo)

NASA staffers understated attendance for Seattle’s Museum of Flight and didn’t count Canadian visitors in their measure of the region’s international tourism during the site selection process for the retired Space Shuttle orbiters earlier this year.

Those are the new assertions from Museum of Flight officials, as reported by the Seattle Times today. The paper quotes Museum of Flight CEO Doug King saying that Seattle would have topped New York and Los Angeles — both recipients of decommissioned orbiters — in the NASA rankings if correct numbers were used.

As it turned out, Seattle came up just short.

King and two museum board members met last week with NASA administrator Charles Bolden, who acknowledged flaws in the process but stood by the decision.

Nonetheless, the  Seattle museum is still holding out hope that it could be the temporary home for a shuttle, at least. Seattle is already done with the $12 million gallery that it built in hopes of landing a shuttle. New York, on the other hand, apparently can’t figure out where to build its facility.

The objections are a turnabout for Museum of Flight officials, who had previously accepted the NASA decision and pointed out the benefits of the full fuselage trainer that Seattle will be receiving as a consolation prize.

As reported by GeekWire in August, a NASA report showed Seattle coming in just behind the eventual winners in NASA’s scoring matrix, below. The NASA inspector general’s report acknowledged errors in the data at the time but said the selection process was conducted in good faith.

Thanks to Isaac Alexander for his help.

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  • Nick White

    From the perspective museum visitor, I firmly believe that we won. A fuselage trainer creates a lot more opportunity for people to have fun than a space shuttle because it is more interactive. I really think that MoF officials are missing a good opportunity to spin this story positively. They would generate more interest in the museum by doing so.

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