Hoping to raise awareness and attention to their concerns, Space Coast officials are planning an April 11 rally to protest the NASA budget proposal. Organizers are working with everyone from churches to businesses and hope to get 5,000 people to attend the event, scheduled for four days before the presidential space conference at the Kennedy Space Center. (Florida Today, in addition to reporting on the planned rally, is also encouraging people to attend through its editorial page.) Among those scheduled to attend is Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who has challenged President Obama to a debate on space issues. Good luck with that.
While some Florida legislators are seeking to extend the life of the shuttle, others in New York, including Democratic senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are also interested in the shuttle. Not extending it, mind you, but securing an orbiter for the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City when the fleet is retired. Schumer tells the New York Daily News that he thinks the Intrepid’s bid is in “very, very good shape” after a meeting he had Wednesday with NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
However, not mentioned in the article is a provision tucked into legislation introduced earlier this month that could shortcircuit the bid by the Intrepid and many other cities seeking to land an orbiter, from Seattle to Tulsa. The “Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act of 2010″ (S. 3068 and HR 4804) states that, once the shuttle fleet is decommissioned (several years later than planned), the orbiters would be awarded to institutions under a competitive process like the current one, but with “priority consideration given to eligible applicants meeting all conditions of that plan which would provide for the location, display, and maintenance of one Orbiter at or near the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, and one Orbiter at or near the Kennedy Space Center near Titusville, Florida.” With one orbiter already expected to go the National Air and Space Museum, that would shut out the Intrepid and anyone else.