Entries in Retired (1)


Houston Snubbed: Shuttles Go to Smithsonian, Florida, California, New York

BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- NASA, announcing where the space shuttles would go after they are retired this year, can't seem to win when it's losing.

The most conspicuous loser in the shuttle sweepstakes was Houston, the home of mission control and NASA's astronauts -- and the city is not taking it well.

This week NASA announced the shuttle Discovery would go to the Smithsonian Institution near Washington, Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, and Atlantis to the Kennedy Space Center visitors' complex in Florida. New York City won the prototype shuttle Enterprise, which was used in early tests and will move from the Smithsonian.

And for Houston? Nothing. Or next to nothing: Space Center Houston, the museum down the road from Mission Control is getting two seats -- seats -- from a shuttle's flight deck.

"The thought of an Orbiter not coming home to rest at Space Center Houston is truly tragic," said Rep. John Culberson, a Texas Republican, in a statement. "It is analogous to Detroit without a Model-T, or Florence without a Da Vinci."

When Neil Armstrong radioed "one giant leap for mankind" from the moon, he was talking to Houston. This week the Houston Chronicle echoed him: "One Giant Snub for Houston."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, decided to do more than complain. He introduced a bill -- the "Space Shuttle Retirement Act" of 2011 -- ordering that the shuttles be sent to Florida, California, suburban Washington ... and Houston. He got nine co-sponsors, five of them from Texas.

Gen. Charles Bolden, the NASA administrator, said the agency was sending the shuttles to major tourist destinations, where more people would get to see them. Houston may be steamed, but it does get steamy there in the summer.

"This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind," Bolden said on Tuesday. "In the end, these choices provide the greatest number of people with the best opportunity to share in the history and accomplishments of NASA's remarkable space shuttle Program."

There were 16 other museums or visitor centers that made bids for the shuttles, but the ones in Ohio and Oklahoma had to concede they were long shots. NASA did announce it was giving runners-up shuttle simulators, training mockups and rocket engines.

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