Final Shuttle Destinations Announced
Dayton, Houston have a problem with decision
Space shuttle Discovery rolls down Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Its final landing spot - the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center - and those of the three other shuttles, was announced April 12.
April 12, 2011 —During Tuesday’s ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle flight and the 50th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's first manned spaceflight, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the four institutions that will get a space shuttle for permanent display.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Orlando, Florida, will receive Atlantis; Discovery will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Washington, D.C.; Enterprise goes to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City; and the California Science Center in Los Angeles will receive Endeavour, currently on the launch pad awaiting its final launch, occurring as soon as April 29.
Dayton, Houston have a problem with decision
Twenty-one museums, planetariums, and other educational institutions had applied to obtain one of the decommissioned space orbiters. Those losing out expressed disappointment, most notably supporters of Houston’s Johnson Space Center and Dayton’s National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, both of whom allege politics played a role in the final decision.
“It is sad and unfortunate that politics played such an obvious role in the placement of theses retiring orbiters,” said Texas Congressman John Culberson. “The thought of an orbiter not coming home to rest at Space Center Houston is truly tragic. It is analogous to Detroit without a Model-T, or Florence without a da Vinci.”
An editorial criticizing the announcement from The Houston Chronicle summarized local reaction from Houston Mayor Annise Parker: “I am disappointed for Houston, the JSC family and the survivors of the Columbia and Challenger missions who paid the ultimate price for the advancement of space exploration. There was no other city with our history of human space flight or more deserving of a retiring orbiter. It is unfortunate that political calculations have prevailed in the final decision.”
NASA denied politics were involved in the decision. “I have felt no political pressure at all during this process. I’m apolitical. I’m here to do what is best for NASA,” said Olga Dominguez, Assistant Administrator, Office of Strategic Infrastructure, who forwarded the recommended sites chosen to Charles Bolden.
The Dayton Daily News reported that the failure to name the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force – which was first runner-up in the competition – prompted calls from Ohio’s congressional delegation for a federal investigation.
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‘A very difficult decision’ - Bolden
“We want to thank all of the locations that expressed an interest in one of these national treasures,” Bolden said. “This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind. 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.
“These facilities we've chosen have a noteworthy legacy of preserving space artifacts and providing outstanding access to U.S. and international visitors."
The 30-year shuttle program logged more than 130 missions as well as numerous science and technology firsts.
NASA also announced that hundreds of shuttle artifacts have been allocated to museums and education institutions.
- Various shuttle simulators for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago; the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum of McMinnville, Oregon; and Texas A&M's Aerospace Engineering Department
- Full fuselage trainer for the Museum of Flight in Seattle
- Nose cap assembly and crew compartment trainer for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio
- Flight deck pilot and commander seats for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston
- Orbital maneuvering system engines for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center of Huntsville, Alabama; National Air and Space Museum in Washington; and the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
For more information about other program artifacts available to museums and libraries, click here. NASA also is offering shuttle heat shield tiles to schools and universities. For more information, click here.