Houston's problem could be getting some help from Congress.
The Space City citizens and politicians felt left out, spurned and angry when NASA decided to locate the three retired space shuttles (and the one prototype) in New York City, Los Angeles, Orlando and Washington D.C. Congress has heard Houston's pleas and has introduced a bill that would establish sites in Texas, Florida, California, and Virginia (a Smithsonian Museum facility).
The Space Shuttle Retirement Act would push out the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City in favor of the Johnson Space Center (JSC). The JSC is where astronauts have trained since 1961 and people come to see countless space related tourist attractions.
The bill was introduced by Utah republican Representative Jason Chaffetz. It was co-signed by Representatives Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), Pete Olson (R-Texas), Al Green (D-Texas), Rich Nugent (R-Fla.), and Ted Poe (R-Texas).
After hearing many of my colleagues in Congress cry out: 'Earth to NASA,' I am seeking to restore common sense and fairness to the Space Shuttle retirement home debate, Congressman Chaffetz said in a statement.
Instead of relying on political guidance systems, these decisions must be steered by history and logic. My legislation would designate the retirement home of the three Space Shuttles based on the location and history of the Shuttles' launches, landings, and mission support, the fourth based on the Smithsonian's role in preserving American artifacts.
The bill would have the Discovery at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Washington D.C. and Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex in Orlando like intended. The Endeavour would go to JSC and the California Space Center in Los Angeles would get the prototype Enterprise.
NASA's decision to leave Houston out got the attention of several high profile Texas politicians including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Representative Kevin Brady. It even warranted a NASA official from the JSC to speak out against it.
Although the orbiters were built in California and launched in Florida, I am personally disappointed that the Houston area was not awarded one of the space shuttle orbiters. Houston had a strong case: the Space Shuttle Program has been located here at JSC since its inception, the astronauts live and train here, and of course all the shuttle missions have been controlled from our Mission Control Center, Johnson Space Center director Michael L. Coats said in a statement.