When the final three space shuttles are formally retired this year, where should they go for retirement?
Logic and a bit of common sense says one could go in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, another could hang out at Cape Canaveral in Florida, with a third finding a home in Houston, right? Not so fast.
"You like to think that decisions made in Washington are always logical," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said at Houston's Bring The Shuttle Home rally on Wednesday. "They're not."
The current competition to land a shuttle has gotten intense, with 30 cities submitting applications. That's why Houston has turned on the press machine, declaring Wednesday "Bring The Shuttle Home" day in Houston and organizing a rally outside city hall.
City council members, Houston sports mascots, Astros announcer Milo Hamilton and representatives from NASA were all on hand to argue that no other city can claim a piece of space history like we can.
"NASA is ours," said Mayor Annise Parker, who arrived late after finishing up city council meeting business. "These are our friends, our neighbors, and we will take care of it with the care and concern only a family can have."
Parker and others urged people to log on to bringtheshuttlehome.com and write or call their congressman to advocate to get the shuttle in Houston. The decision about where the three shuttles will go is set for April 12.
The event also drove home the point that Houston has earned a shuttle not only from achievement but through sacrifice. Evelyn Husband Thompson — the widow of astronaut Rick Husband, who died in the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003 — represented a trio of NASA widows from both the Columbia and Challenger tragedies. Husband Thompson said that astronauts and their families have made a home in Houston.
"New York is great, but New York doesn't have astronauts or mission control," she said. Husband Thompson ended by quoting Rep. Pete Olson's argument that no one has "shed more tears or found more pain" from the space mission tragedies than Houston.
Appealing to logic and emotion. If that doesn't work, I don't know what will.