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Did Houston even deserve a space shuttle? Saturn V "garage" raises questions of neglect & indifference

Saturn V, rocket, Houston Space Center
Saturn V at the Houston Space Center Photo by Wolfgang Houston/Panoramio
Saturn V, damage, rocket, Houston
The temporary building hosting the Saturn V is showing signs of deterioration. Photo by © Dwayne A. Day, 2012
Saturn V, Huntsville, Alabama, rocket
Saturn V in Huntsville, Ala., at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Saturn V, Kennedy Space Center, rocket
Saturn V at the Kennedy Space Center Wikipedia
Saturn V, rocket, Houston Space Center
Saturn V, damage, rocket, Houston
Saturn V, damage, rocket, Houston
Saturn V, Huntsville, Alabama, rocket
Saturn V, Kennedy Space Center, rocket
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Get Directions - NASA Road 1 Nassau Bay

There have been several reasons given for Houston's snubbed bid for a space shuttle in favor of New York — politics, tourism numbers and a preference for outreach potential over community relevance among them.

But according to space historian Dwayne Day, Houston's loss is well-deserved based on Space Center Houston's shoddy treatment of the Saturn V rocket.

The Saturn V rocket was used in NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 to 1973, taking 24 astronauts to the moon over 13 launches.

Day visited three sites that display the 363-foot Saturn V: Florida's Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex, the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center in Alabama and Space Center Houston. Day praises the Kennedy and Huntsville sites as "outstanding facilities" that manifest a sense of pride from their respective space communities, but according to Day, "Houston is another story."

The Saturn V is located in a windowless "temporary" building that is not located on the museum grounds and must be accessed through a parking lot behind a Johnson Space Center security gate. There's not much room in front of or behind the rocket, the building holds no other artifacts and according to Day, the insulation is growing increasingly worse for wear, leading to the impression that "the Saturn V is being stored in a big garage."


Houston has had the Saturn V for decades. It has housed it indoors for almost seven years, and yet the city has not improved the presentation or shown any indication that it intends to display the Saturn V with any of the affection and intelligence that the Kennedy and Huntsville communities have given to their Saturn Vs. If you look at what Houston has done it is hard not to wonder if they would have treated a shuttle orbiter with the same indifference."

Day blames an indifferent community that has the financial potential to raise the money for a more respectable installation but has instead let it fall into disrepair, suggesting that the city and the Johnson Space Center use the space shuttle snub as a wake-up call.

Have you visited the Saturn V, and did you think it was as bad as Day describes? Why do you think Houston lost the space shuttle?

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