Houston, Texas. Space City, USA. Home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the lead center for the space shuttle activities and missions. Home of Mission Control. Home of the astronaut corp.
Houston, we have a problem.
Houston, Texas. The city that is not getting a retired space shuttle for display.
Houston, Texas, where thousands of people devoted their careers to NASA and the space shuttle program. They designed, developed, tested, operated, supported, and flew the shuttles. They trained the men and women that flew the space shuttle missions.
Now, these thousands of people, and many people in Houston, feel the heart of the space community there is being ripped out. Their hard work, their sacrifices, are rewarded with nothing. It feels like an insult, and I have never even worked at the Johnson Space Center.
The following is from the Houston Chronical. The statement was released by the families of those astronauts who gave their lives in the Challenger and Columbia tragic accidents:
“We are heartbroken to learn of the decision that the space shuttle will not be allowed to return home to Houston,” said Evelyn Husband Thompson, Jonathan Clark, Sandy Anderson, Lorna Onizuka and Cheryl McNair, in a joint statement. “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 residents. We again share a collective loss as a result of the political decision to send the space shuttle elsewhere.”
To add more insult to the injury, NASA is taking away the three shuttle flight simulators, the full fuselage trainer, and the cockpit trainer from JSC.
Many Texans feel this a is political decision. Bolden was appointed head of NASA by President Obama. Texas is a republican state and did not support Obama in the last election. How sad that this could have had an influence on the decision, but given the decision, it is possible.
Congress had directed NASA to look at each locations connection to the space program. It’s noted above JSC connection to the space program. It came into existence as the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1961, the year of the first manned space mission in the United States. It has played a role in every single manned space mission since 1963.
The Smithsonian getting the Discovery is a no brainer. They house so many artifacts that are the heart and soul of America that they do deserve a shuttle.
Kennedy Space Center getting the Atlantis is another no brainer. Every shuttle was launched at KSC.
Los Angeles getting the Endeavour is questionable. Yes, the shuttles were built by the Rockwell facility outside of LA, and Edwards Air Force Base is the backup landing site, but where were they designed and developed? Johnson Space Center.
The outrage, at least for me, is New York. The Enterprise, the prototype that was never flown in space, is going to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space museum. Why? Because the Intrepid was the primary recovery ship for the Mercury 7 capsule! They recovered a total of 2, count them, 2 space crafts. The ship was retired in 1974, just 2 years after the space shuttle program was launched.
Can someone please tell me what the Intrepid has to do with the space shuttle program? Can someone please tell me why the East Coast gets 3 shuttles, the West Coast gets one, and middle America gets nothing?
To those people in New York who are protesting getting the prototype and not one of the shuttles actually flown in space, we Texans will gladly take it!