Politics Could Kill Houston’s Chances of Getting a Retired Space Shuttle
NASA is getting ready to retire its fleet of Space Shuttle orbiters, and cities all over the country are stepping up their political and public relations efforts to get one of them to put on public display. Houston may or may not get one of them. Politics could keep it from happening.
Space Center Houston is competing with about 20 other museums, but in reality half a dozen competitors stand above the others to get Atlantis, Endeavour and the never-flown Enterprise. (Discovery is going to the Smithsonian Institution).
Houston would seem to be a virtual lock to get one, but it’s not, and it’s because of Texas politics. The space shuttle was designed in Houston, and the program has been managed here since its inception. Astronauts who have flown on the shuttle live and train here, and Mission Control is at Johnson Space Center. But, Houston is also in a thoroughly Republican state, and that could kill its chances.
The general view of the Texas Congressional delegation seems to be that, while it’s worth fighting for, it may be a lost cause.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden has the final say, and he’s expected to announce his decision April 12, the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle flight.