The new Shuttle homes, announced today by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden are,
- Atlantis Kennedy Space Center
Discovery Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Endeavour California Science Center
Enterprise Aircraft Carrier Intrepid at New York City
As reported in the Houston Chronicle, Houston we’ve had a problem: ‘Space City’ snubbed in bid for retired space shuttle, the home of Mission Control, where 135 Shuttle missions were overseen, will not get a Shuttle. Senator Hutchison released a statement expressing her disappointment that Johnson Space Center will not be home to a Shuttle, just as it was to one of the Saturn V launchers after the end of Apollo. Also upset with NASA’s choice for Shuttle homes was the Ohio Congressional delegation.
The choice of both the California Science Center and New York City were a surprise; NYC in particular never played a noticeable role in the Shuttle program. The law allowing NASA to distribute the Shuttles stipulates priority should be given to communities with strong historical ties to NASA, and in particular the shuttle program.
As reported by Space News’ Brian Berger in “Retired Shuttles to Land In Calif., Fla, D.C. and NYC“, during his appearance at yesterday’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, Administrator Bolden stated, “The 10 criteria that were used by by the people that … made the recommendations to me did not include the prioritization from the law,” Bolden told Hutchison. “I was aware of it, and so I think you will find when the announcement is made that every place receiving an orbiter has a historical connection to human space flight, and in fact, I think you will find that every one of them has a historical connection to the space shuttle.”
It is unlikely that Congress will waste its time worrying about NASA’s decision. If recent actions on the part of NASA’s leadership are any indication, there are other fights coming between Congress and NASA over how the Agency implements the exploration program outlined by Congress in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.