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Filmmaker Steven Barber Leads Efforts for Sally Ride Statue in Central Florida

Lifelike bronze statues honoring prominent astronauts have been garnering attention across America's space hubs and museums, thanks to the efforts of documentary filmmaker Steven Barber. Now, Barber sets his sights on Central Florida, aiming to bring a statue commemorating Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, to the region.

Barber's top target for the statue is Orlando International Airport, although initial discussions indicate that any approval would necessitate navigating through the airport's rigorous selection process and policies regarding commissioned art pieces.

"While we appreciate Mr. Barber's passion in locating a monument at Orlando International to honor beloved astronaut Sally Ride, the preliminary discussions last year were just that—preliminary," stated the airport's public relations team.

Barber, who played a significant role in the placement of lifelike astronaut statues at various locations, including Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and Space Center Houston, expressed his enthusiasm during a recent visit to Orlando's SpaceCom. Reflecting on his previous projects, such as the Apollo 11 statue installed at KSC's Apollo/Saturn V Center Moon Tree Garden in 2019, Barber emphasized the profound impact these monuments have on inspiring future generations of scientists and astronauts.

In his pursuit of honoring Ride's legacy, Barber remains flexible regarding the statue's location, indicating ongoing discussions with potential sites in Cocoa Beach. Ride made history in 1983 as the first American woman in space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger and continued to contribute to space exploration until her passing in 2012.

Barber's dedication to space-related memorials stems from his extensive experience in documentary filmmaking and a profound encounter with a statue of Apollo 13's Jack Swigert in Washington's National Statuary Hall Collection.

"This is year seven doing this. And I'm it. I'm out visioning the projects, getting the astronauts to give me the rights, finding the location, finding the money, and getting it built," Barber said. "It's really just about heart, and that's the hardest thing about this job is finding like-minded people with heart."

Barber's successful efforts in securing placements for astronaut statues, including those of Sally Ride, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, highlight his unwavering commitment to honoring the pioneers of space exploration. With plans for additional statues honoring figures like Ellen Ochoa and Guion Bluford, Barber continues to champion American exceptionalism through his monumental endeavors.

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