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Houston will not get retired shuttle

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Upset NASA supporters NASA shuttle announcement

Houston's Johnson Space Center will not receive one of the retired space shuttles as the fleet is distributed around the country.

There are three shuttles up for grabs and the Johnson Space Center in southeast Houston was considered a contender to get one. However, we had some serious competition from several cities including Seattle, New York City, Los Angeles and Dayton, Ohio. The big announcement officially came today at noon on the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch.

Discovery, which ended its flying career last month, will be housed at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. That leaves Atlantis, Endeavor and Enterprise, which is a prototype orbiter that never made it into space.

Atlantis will go to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where all the shuttles have been launched. The prototype Enterprise will go to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York. California Science Center in Los Angeles will receive the Endeavour.

Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan today called Houston losing out on a shuttle an example of "politics over history."

The following statement was issued by some family members of the Columbia/Challenger crews:

    We are heartbroken to learn of the decision that the Space Shuttle will not be allowed to return home to Houston. Home is where the heart is, and Houston has served as the heart of the space shuttle program since its inception nearly four decades ago. All the astronauts lost were Houston's residents. We again share a collective loss as a result of the political decision to send the space shuttle elsewhere. We had prayed that the incredible sacrifices this community has endured would have allowed the shuttle's legacy to continue here. Although we disagree with this decision, we will persevere in our support of space exploration, just as we have done in the past.

    Evelyn Husband Thompson
    Jonathan Clark
    Sandy Anderson
    Lorna Onizuka
    Cheryl McNair

Houston Mayor Annise Parker issued the following statement:

    "This is certainly disappointing, but not entirely unexpected as the Administration has been hinting that Houston would not be a winner in this political competition. I am disappointed for Houston, the JSC family and the survivors of the Columbia and Challenger missions who paid the ultimate price for the advancement of space exploration. There was no other city with our history of human space flight or more deserving of a retiring orbiter. It is unfortunate that political calculations have prevailed in the final decision."

Rep. Pete Olson of Sugar Land also issued a statement:

    "Disappointment doesn't begin to describe my reaction to this announcement. Houston has been a critical component of every aspect of the shuttle program. Every astronaut that has flown in a shuttle has called Houston home. The men and women who launch and land every shuttle flight have earned the right to call one of the retired orbiters home. This oversight smacks of a political gesture in an agency that has always served above politics. Having said that, Houston and the amazing people who work at the Johnson Space Center have always risen to every challenge presented to them and this is no exception."

And U.S. Senator John Cornyn of Texas said in a statement:

    "Like many Texans, I am disappointed with NASA's decision to slight the Johnson Space Center as a permanent home for one of the Space Shuttle Orbiters. Houston has played a critical role throughout the life of the space shuttle, but it is clear political favors trumped common sense and fairness in the selection of the final locations for the orbiter fleet. There is no question Houston should have been selected as a final home for one of the orbiterseven Administrator Bolden stated as much. Today's announcement is an affront to the thousands of dedicated men and women at Johnson Space Center, the greater Houston community and the State of Texas, and I'm deeply disappointed with the Administration's misguided decision."

Twenty-one museums and visitor centers nationwide wanted one of these retiring space shuttles.

NASA also announced that hundreds of shuttle artifacts have been allocated to museums and education institutions.

  • Various shuttle simulators for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum of McMinnville, Oregon, and Texas A&M's Aerospace Engineering Department
  • Full fuselage trainer for the Museum of Flight in Seattle
  • Nose cap assembly and crew compartment trainer for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio
  • Flight deck pilot and commander seats for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • Orbital maneuvering system engines for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center of Huntsville, Alabama, National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

  • -------------------------------------------------------
    If you would like to share your thoughts on the retiring shuttle fleet with NASA, you can contact them at:
      Public Communications Office
      NASA Headquarters
      Suite 5K39
      Washington, DC 20546-0001
      202-358-0001 (Office)
      202-358-4338 (Fax)
      Email: public-inquiries@hq.nasa.gov

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