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Mayor reacts, blames politics

Space City snubbed: It's no space shuttle for Houston

Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery Courtesy of NASA
News_Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour Courtesy of NASA
The scene at the announcement. Courtesy of NASA TV
News_shuttle rally
Houston's Bring the Shuttle Home rally Photo by Sarah Rufca
News_Space Shuttle Atlantis
Space Shuttle Atlantis Courtesy of NASA
Space Shuttle Discovery
News_Space Shuttle Endeavour
News_shuttle rally
News_Space Shuttle Atlantis
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Get Directions - NASA Road 1 Nassau Bay

Houston, we have a problem. In a decision that was disappointing — if not surprising — Space City was bypassed as a destination for all of the soon-to-be-retired space shuttles.

On Tuesday, the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle program, NASA administrator Charles Bolden announced from Florida that Houston — despite being the home of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, which houses mission control and the astronaut training facilities — will not get any of the shuttles.

After having to sit through an announcement that included a long video on the history of the space program narrated by William Shatner and a live cut-in from the international space station, the news only got gloomy for Houston.

With shuttle Discovery already set to be displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., over 20 museums and other centers were competing to house space shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis as well as shuttle prototype Enterprise, which never went to space.
Endeavour and Atlantis are headed to California (the California Science Center) and Florida (the Kennedy Space Center) respectively. The Enterprise will go to the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum in New York.
The fight for the shuttles turned out to be extremely competitive with organizations from New York to Seattle to Dayton, Ohio submitting proposals and renderings of potential space shuttle exhibits and displays.

After a slow start to its own campaign, Houston got in the mix with a Bring the Shuttle Home rally in front of City Hall on April 6 which featured strong words of support from local politicians as well as the widows of astronauts who died in the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

But it turned out to make little difference.

"It's been a rough day," Bolden said in the middle of his announcement.

Not as rough as it's been for Houston.

"This is certainly disappointing, but not entirely unexpected as the Administration has been hinting that Houston would not be a winner in this political competition," Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement. "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."

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