Houston's "consolation prize" in NASA's space shuttle giveaway has arrived.  The 65 ton full-scale model named Explorer has been towed from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Space Center Houston, the tourist attraction next door to the Johnson Space Center.

 

Take a good look folks. This is Explorer -- the mockup display model shuttle that's now the biggest attraction at Space Center Houston.  Getting it from Florida to Houston took a tow job of monumental and historic proportions. Sea-going tugs pulled it around the tip of Florida, across the Gulf of Mexico, across Galveston Bay, and then across Clear Lake to its final parking place at Space Center Houston.

Houstonians are still chafing over the way NASA -- and the Obama administration -- ignored Houston and the Johnson Space Center when deciding where the retired shuttle orbiters would go.  They point out the obvious fact that Houston has been the home of the space program since it began.

Johnson Space Center is here.  Mission Control is here.  Astronauts live and train here. They say sending the shuttle mockup to Houston, and sending real orbiters to other cities like Los Angeles and New York was a political slap in the face.

It's worth noting that New York didn't get a "real" shuttle orbiter either. The shuttle Enterprise now on display in New York City was the prototype NASA built to test the shuttle's gliding and landing capabilities when dropped from a high altitude.

Enterprise wasn't built to be launched into space or come through re-entry. The mockup Explorer coming to Houston never flew in space either, but tourists can walk through it and see how space shuttles worked. They can't do that with the Enterprise in New York.  So there.

It's important to know that Explorer just arrived at JSC today - June 1st. It's going to take Space Center Houston a few weeks to get Explorer ready for public display.  Watch this space for updates.