NASA Snubs Texas — Houston Will Not Get a Retired Space Shuttle
Houston will not get one of the Space Shuttle orbiters when the Shuttle program ends and the orbiters are retired later this year. Many people blame partisan politics, and are calling it a deliberate slap in the face for Texas, which is solidly Republican.
NASA has opted to place the shuttles in Washington, D.C.; New York City, Los Angeles and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says those are the places where the greatest number of people will be able to see the spacecraft.
Those hoping to get an orbiter for Houston are bitterly disappointed, and many of them say the decision was based on politics. Some Texas lawmakers want Congress to investigate NASA’s decision-making process.
Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says she’s extremely disappointed, because she “specifically asked NASA Administrator Bolden to follow the law, which stipulates priority should be given to communities with strong historical ties to NASA, and in particular the shuttle program.”
NASA insists politics played no role in the decision. The official who helped Bolden with the choices says NASA followed Congressional instructions to place the orbiters in museums that have historical ties to the space agency.
If it’s any consolation, Space Center Houston at the Johnson Space Center will get some of the cockpit seats from one of the orbiters. Space Center Houston is also hoping to get remnants of the Shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated during re-entry over east Texas in 2003. They say those pieces, now in a large warehouse, would be a fitting tribute to NASA’s astronauts.