The city of Kent and Kent Downtown Partnership are trying to get a historic landmark designation for the Apollo lunar rover vehicles built at the Boeing Space Center.
“The purpose of the historic landmark designation is to recognize and celebrate the lunar rover’s significant contribution to our local, state and national history,” said Michelle Wilmot, campaign director and city Economic Development program manager, in an email to gather support.
A public hearing about the potential designation is at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 25, in front of the nine-member King County Landmarks Commission, at the Kent City Hall Council Chambers, 220 Fourth Ave. S.
Boeing designed, tested and built in Kent the four-wheeled vehicles used by NASA during Apollo Missions 15, 16 and 17 in 1971 and 1972. Three rovers remain on the moon. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Boeing winning the NASA contract to create lunar rovers at its Kent space center as well as the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by Apollo 11.
“The rovers made possible the most ambitious scientific missions of the Apollo program, enabling astronauts to travel much greater distances and conduct more experiments, all which contributed greatly to our current understanding of lunar evolutionary history,” Wilmot said. “The fact neither King County, nor our state, has ever named objects on the moon as landmarks makes this a particularly exciting and unique way to honor our region’s role in NASA’s historic Apollo program.”
The commission is expected to make a decision about the designation the evening of the public hearing, Wilmot said.
King County established the commission in 1980 to ensure that the historic places, material culture, and traditions which best reflect the region’s 13,000 years of human history are preserved for future generations.
If the city of Kent is successful in achieving this distinction at the local level, staff plans to pursue the same at the state level. California and New Mexico are the only states to include lunar objects and structures in their state historic registers, according to Seattle-based Barokas Communications. The city hired Barokas for $100,000 earlier this year to provide public/media relations and marketing services over the rest of the year to promote the Kent Valley as a business destination.
For more information, go to apollolunarrover.com.