Congress, NASA

Texas versus New York

In the immediate aftermath of NASA’s announcement Tuesday, officials from Ohio and Texas, who were both left empty-handed, reacted differently to the bad news: while Ohio officials criticized the decision on geographic grounds and immediately issued a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking them to review the decision-making progress, Texas officials vented their frustration, pinning the blame on partisan politics. Now, though, Texas legislators are backing their anger with political action.

On Thursday 18 members of the state’s congressional delegation sent a letter to NASA administrator Charles Bolden asking a series of questions about the decisionmaking process and how Houston could be passed over for one of the four orbiters. “No city in the world deserves a shuttle more than Houston, certainly not New York,” Rep. Pete Olson said a release accompanying the letter. “Houston deserves answers to how this decision was made. Administrator Bolden has some explaining to do.”

In the text of the letter (also available here), the Texas delegation seems willing to admit that the Smithsonian, KSC, and even the California Science Center in Los Angeles are reasonable homes for shuttles, as they make no specific mention of them in the letter. But New York? That’s another story, apparently, as most of the questions are about the decision to award Enterprise to the Intrepid museum in New York City. “For what specific reasons was the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City chosen?” reads one question. “Are there any historical connections between NASA and the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum? Are there any historical connections between NASA and New York City in general?” reads another. Other questions focus on the logistics of getting the shuttle to the Intrepid museum and the costs involved.

The letter concludes with a warning: “If there is no rational explanation based on definable factors for the choice of the Intrepid museum in New York City, and that the transfer of the Enterprise to that location will cost significantly more than a transfer to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, we will do everything in our power in Congress, including legislation to prevent funding of the transfer, to stop this wasteful decision. ”

In fact, there’s already a move to override NASA’s decision. On Thursday Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced HR 1536, titled “To provide for the disposition of the retiring Space Shuttles.” The text of the legislation is not yet posted, but according to the Los Angeles Times, the bill would “strip New York of its shuttle and give one to Houston.” It’s not immediately clear why Rep. Chaffetz, from a state not involved in the shuttle competition, introduced the bill, but it does have nine cosponsors, including members from Texas, Florida, and California.

Update 9:30 am: Rep. Chaffetz’s office has issued a press release about the legislation. In it, the congressman states, “Instead of relying on political guidance systems, these decisions must be steered by history and logic.” The legislation would give JSC “Shuttle Endeavor” [sic] while the California Science Center, which was to get Endeavour, would instead get Enterprise; the Smithsonian and KSC would keep Discovery and Atlantis, respectively.

88 comments to Texas versus New York

  • The fuss reminds me of that old Pace Picante Sauce commercial-

    “That Shuttle’s going to New York City.”

    “New York City!?”

    “That really chaps mah hide…”

  • Let’s do some basic math … Number of representatives by state:

    California: 53
    New York: 29
    Florida: 25
    Texas: 32

    So that’s 107 delegates from winning states, 32 delegates from Texas, and only 18 of the 32 signed the threatening letter.

    Don’t expect this latest threat to go very far.

    The bottom line is that Houston submitted a poor proposal and did little to promote it. That’s why they lost. Their arrogant attitude of entitlement didn’t help either.

    KSCVC put $100 million on the line. What did Houston do? The Houston delegation should publicly release their original submission so we can see for ourselves what they proposed.

  • nasand beyond

    We all know why NY, and especially (ick) Calif were picked. More meat would be likely to pass through the doors there than elsewhere. It’s all about PR, that and as Yogurt from Spaceballs would say “Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money is made!”

  • amightywind

    Enterprise to New York was clearly a political favor. So it goes in this foul Age of Obama. Bolden needs to come clean on the decision process. He won’t end up looking good. (Has he ever?) I wish congress and the NASA leadership would concentrate their efforts on creating a strong SLV program.

  • Justin Kugler

    This is getting to be absurd. Our legislators should be working on getting NASA what it needs to carry out the tasks they’ve given the agency, not fighting over its legacy.

  • Ross Taylor

    It’s worse for Houston than just not getting an orbiter. All of the simulators and mock-ups currently housed here are being removed and sent elsewhere, including Ohio. Houston will be left with 2 seats. It is insulting to deny Houston an orbiter; it is a slap in the face to take away all of the other artifacts.

  • Dex

    I am pretty sure the problem is that NASA didn’t get to decide where Enterprise went. Bolden had control of where the 3 active shuttles went. He chose the Smithsonian in the nation’s capital for Discovery, a logical choice. He chose KSC where the Shuttle’s were launched from for 30 years. And he chose Southern California where the shuttles were designed and largely built. The Texas delegation knows the answers to its questions with regards to those 3 locations.

    From my understanding, the Smithsonian picked where Enterprise went; the Texas delegation is barking up the wrong tree.

  • Ross Taylor wrote:

    It is insulting to deny Houston an orbiter; it is a slap in the face to take away all of the other artifacts.

    Then why don’t you ask the people who submitted (late) the Houston proposal and why it was so poor? That’s where the problem lies, not with the Administrator’s office.

    All bidders had to submit proposals showing they had the money to support it and how they were going to highlight the technology. Ask your Houston delegation to release their proposal so we can see for ourselves the quality of their proposal.

  • arachnitect

    @amightywind

    Bolden insists (before the Senate) that he made the decision alone and not for political reasons.

    If you want to claim that the NASA admin., former astronaut, and Marine Corp. Major General is lying to congress and the nation, you need to present some evidence that supports your position.

  • amightywind

    If you want to claim that the NASA admin., former astronaut, and Marine Corp. Major General is lying to congress and the nation, you need to present some evidence that supports your position.

    Your’s is but to say Bolden’s reputation puts his decision making beyond reproach. Sorry. In two years on the job and several embarrassing appearances before congress, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is a lizard, a very decorated one. I think much of congress agrees with me.

  • By the way, the headquarters of ATK’s Space Systems Group is in Chaffetz’s district. That explains a lot about why he’s sponsoring this. The usual Constellation crowd.

  • MrEarl

    Wayne Hale has the reason why Houston did not get an orbiter, apathay.
    http://waynehale.wordpress.com/

    In the ’90′s I spent a lot of time in Houston and know that apathay was rampent at that time and from Wayne’s blog it seems to still be the way.

    My personal preferance would have been to put Enterprise in Seattle or KC, if they were in the running, but NYC makes Enterprise avalible to a lot of people.
    Justin is right,
    “This is getting to be absurd. Our legislators should be working on getting NASA what it needs to carry out the tasks they’ve given the agency, not fighting over its legacy.”

  • Pete

    NYC choice based on more meat through the door? Probably, but if that “meat” includes a larger number of “future scientists and engineers,” good choice. (I don’t live in any of the locations picked.) I haven’t conducted a survey, but I’d be willing to bet dog-food money that more essays on “what I did on my summer vacation” talk about trips to DC, NYC, LA, and FLA than Houston or Dayton.

    Politics? C’mon. Outside of the Smithsonian, these other outfits are having to pay to get the shuttles. If they were gifts, yeah, you might be able to scream politics, but they are not. Lots of new jobs sprinkled in a state or district? Nope. Perhaps a few extra custodial jobs to keep the birds dusted. Otherwise, not much impact on jobs one could crow about in a campaign. And when it comes to votes, partisans already will have made up their minds on a range of issues other than we-got-a-shuttle. Does anyone honestly believe that in this economy the undecideds in a location getting a shuttle are going to be swayed one way or another by a new local attraction, courtesy of NASA? I’d love to see the exit polling on that one!

    The question of how NASA intends to pay for getting the shuttle onto the Intrepid is frivolous. NASA’s only obligation is to deliver the shuttle to the nearest airport capable of taking the 747 and orbiter. It’s up to the destination institution to pay the freight from the airport to the final display location. It’s a cheaper flight from Dulles to Kennedy or La Guardia than Dulles to Houston.

    One of the most insightful analyses on this comes from none other than the former manager of the shuttle program, Wayne Hale. His bottom line: Houston didn’t get it because it assumed it was a shoo-in and failed to make a convincing case.

    http://waynehale.wordpress.com/

    If folks want to bash Obama and NASA, there are far more substantive issues to haggle over than the location of three orbiters. As Hale acknowledges, one can’t rule politics out. On the other hand, this may be one of those rare instances where the stated criteria for selecting a final landing spot for the orbiters — several of which imply locations with the heaviest foot traffic — played the dominant role.

  • Marshall Perrin

    Dex raises an interesting point. What is the legal status and ownership of Enterprise right now? It’s been in the Smithsonian for the last couple decades – can NASA legally dictate where it goes at this point? I could easily imagine the curatorial staff at the Smithsonian deciding the best new home for their shuttle (landing test article) would be another nearby museum.

    I’d like to see some hard numbers in this discussion. How many people annually visit Space Center Houston versus the Intrepid museum? Anyone know?

  • ok then

    Sounds like Charles Schumer should start an inquiry in to how many federal space dollars wind up in Texas and if there may be a way to spread those around more evenly to other states.

    If Veruca Salt wants her pony and her zebra (and she wants them now daddy!), maybe it’s time to try some tough love to break that sense of entitlement before it’s too late?

  • Do Texans really whine like this when they lose their toys?

    The whining will be worse when TX realizes what they’ve lost through KBH pushing the new space companies out of Texas.

  • Bennett

    @ok then

    I like the way you think.

    Pete and Marshall Perrin,

    Good clear comments, thanks!

  • John Malkin

    Houston rates 106 in World Tourism. So how many people would really see a Shuttle at JSC. It would be better to put it in the Galleria. Or.. are they thinking “build it and they will come”. I don’t think a non-space/sci-fi person will take a vacation because of an old piece of space hardware. New York is the most visited city in the US. The Enterprise should go there.

    http://www.euromonitor.com/top-150-city-destinations-london-leads-the-way/article

  • By the way, the headquarters of ATK’s Space Systems Group is in Chaffetz’s district. That explains a lot about why he’s sponsoring this. The usual Constellation crowd.

    Actually their HQ is farther north closer to Ogden. Chaffetz’s district is further south. I’ll try to contact his office and find out why he’s getting involved.

  • Artemus

    This circus is only happening because people really do care about space. Maybe not as much as they care about American Idol, but they do care.

    Why do I get the feeling that New York’s shuttle will have a big sign next to it showing how many Head Start programs, food stamps, needle exchanges, Section 8 units, etc. it was responsible for killing?

  • Mark Daymont wrote:

    Actually their HQ is farther north closer to Ogden. Chaffetz’s district is further south. I’ll try to contact his office and find out why he’s getting involved.

    Here’s a 2009 press release from Chaffetz welcoming the ATK Space Systems Group to his district.

  • Artemus wrote:

    This circus is only happening because people really do care about space.

    No, it’s happening because Congresscritters want credit for bringing pork to their districts.

  • Coastal Ron

    Artemus wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    This circus is only happening because people really do care about space.

    Don’t confuse “people” with “politicians”. There have been no public outcries of support or angst about these decisions, no public demonstrations, no rallies. People are too busy with their daily lives to be concerned about future museum pieces.

    Politicians have vested interests that they have to support, whether they fully agree or not, and such is the case here.

    I’m fine with the disposition of the three active Shuttles, but I think Enterprise could have gone to many places, and I wouldn’t have minded that it became a traveling exhibit, staying in one location for no more than a year or so. I don’t know if that’s practical, but I think that “spreading the love” across the country would have been nice, and would have generated more publicity than being a static display.

    But moving Enterprise would have cost lots of money, and since no one apparently stepped forward with such a plan, it apparently went to a more popular tourist destination than Houston. From that standpoint, I think Seattle had a better chance of getting Enterprise than Houston, but it really doesn’t matter, and I doubt the TX delegation will do much to change the outcome.

    However, I wouldn’t mind if they get the unfinished carcass of the soon-to-be cancelled SLS… ;-)

  • SpaceMan

    Texans are shooting blanks, noisy but blanks

  • Robert G. Oler

    Artemus wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    “Why do I get the feeling that New York’s shuttle will have a big sign next to it showing how many Head Start programs, food stamps, needle exchanges, Section 8 units, etc. it was responsible for killing?”

    because like so many on the far right you are a victim of your thoughts and fears, not of reality Robert G. Oler

  • E.P. Grondine

    Trade Blanket.

    Perhaps it Houston wants Ohio’s simulator, they could offer Tecumseh’s village site and work on the Anthony Wayne Parkway, and NPS taking over the Newark remains (all of them) from the OHS.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Justin Kugler wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 8:31 am
    “This is getting to be absurd. Our legislators should be working on getting NASA what it needs to carry out the tasks they’ve given the agency, not fighting over its legacy.”

    I’ll just add to this that it’s yet another reason why I have lost a lot of confidence in our Congress as being able to sustain an ambitious program of human space flight. Here we see them fighting over relics that represent what human space flight isn’t anymore — largely thanks to them. Our Congress appears to have lost what it takes to do new and ambitious human space flight programs in a rational and sustainable way. Maybe NASA shares part of the blame, but the onus for incompetence is pointing more at Congress than at NASA these days. I’m not sure if it means that commercial is the way to go, but I sure hope that commercial can fill in for where Congress has failed us.

  • common sense

    @ Doug Lassiter wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Agreed. Congress has failed us in so many ways and not just for Space.

  • amightywind

    Maybe NASA shares part of the blame, but the onus for incompetence is pointing more at Congress than at NASA these days.

    Amusing! Don’t blame the President or his henchmen for the shambling zombie that is NASA, oh no! It isn’t their fault. The knuckle-dragging tea partiers are too dumb to appreciate their brilliance. We don’t deserve their wise leadership. You can tell that this administration is near the end, and that its die hard supporters are clutching at straws. Congress hasn’t failed us. It is saving us.

  • Our Congress appears to have lost what it takes to do new and ambitious human space flight programs in a rational and sustainable way.

    When did it ever have that?

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    “Don’t blame the President or his henchmen for the shambling zombie that is NASA, oh no! ”

    Not bad, not bad… I am sure all NASA appreciates your support.

    “The knuckle-dragging tea partiers are too dumb to appreciate their brilliance. ”

    What were you doing before the tea-party came around? I am wondering though if they would enjoy your support, considering that, like Congress, you seem to favor out of control cost growth programs. Hmm.

    “Congress hasn’t failed us. It is saving us.”

    Now I get it. You are a member of Congress, Alabama maybe? A Senator?

  • Bennett

    Rand is right, Congress never had a shred of rational and sustainable in them. Times were different when Apollo happened, and different again when the Shuttle was designed and built.

    Since then it has been one epic fail after another. NASA funding has degenerated into exactly what we see in the FY11 budget.

    I’m sorry to be so skeptical and semi-bitter, but I don’t see more than one or two champions, weak ones at that, from non-NASA districts. I don’t think someone who dreams of going BEO is the kind of person who seeks a job in the legislative branch of our government.

  • Doug Lassiter

    amightywind wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 4:35 pm
    “Amusing! Don’t blame the President or his henchmen for the shambling zombie that is NASA, oh no! It isn’t their fault.”

    I guess I can only blame those Administration folks for pulling the plug on an “unexecutable” architecture. Now, I’ll be the first to agree that the Administration hasn’t executed a lot of their own leadership in human space flight, but I think they did the country a favor by pulling that particular plug. Oh, by the way, that architecture was unexecutable NOT because of technology or NASA capability, but because of appropriations that Congress refused to make.

    Congress is saving us? Um, OK, by specifying a launch vehicle that they won’t pay for and that we don’t need? By forcing the agency to spend money on an architecture that (for better or worse) wasn’t ever going to go anywhere? By funneling dollars into local industry pockets instead of into a vision? By cutting off technology investment at the knees? Please, Congress, don’t throw any of your life preservers at me!

    As much as I’d like to blame individuals in Congress for their lack of service to human space flight, I really think it’s part of what we can call a new congressional culture. Sustainability of any ambitious plan requires some strong measure of congressional cooperation, shared vision, and non-partisanship. We used to posit sustainability as surviving new Administrations. It’s perhaps moreso something that will survive successive congresses, and those get turned over in half the time that an Administration can.

    Where the Chinese will win is not because of there inherent smarts, but because they have a strong government that can dictate sustainability. I guess that’s the cost of a representative government. One that follows the very quickly evolving whims of their constituents. Good for some things, but not for others.

  • As a Texan, I’d rather the state got a handful of “NewSpace” companies than a Shuttle. Maybe some technology development projects that the President proposed as well so we can start working the stuff we’re going to need to industrialize cislunar space up the TRL ladder.

    For an allegedly forward-looking industry, space folks sure do spend a lot of time looking backwards to the past.

  • common sense

    @ Doug Lassiter wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    “I guess that’s the cost of a representative government.”

    Nah. It’s the cost of the forever campaigning of our entire government, the required never ending budget to campaign. This turns into a moronic form of government where our leaders seek their re-election pretty much all the time rather than the establishment of a consistent sustainable policy. It is the government of the soundbite pundit. The government of he said she said. The government of the shortsighted.

    I don’t know how we fix it. Unless with campaign funding reform but I suspect this is not going to happen any time soon.

  • DCSCA

    ‘Are there any historical connections between NASA and the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum?’

    Yes. See Project Mercury and Project Gemini for details.

    ‘Are there any historical connections between NASA and New York City in general?”

    Yes. 1. In ‘general’ NASA’s Lunar Module was built on Bethpage, Long Island. 2. Lots of taxpayers. Lots more than Houston. And, of course, lots more visitors/tourists and residents in the tri-state area of metro NYC. Houston, not so much. And, of course the media HQs for NBC, CBS and ABC, which provided comprehensive television coverage to the nation- and the world, of NASA’s manned space program. Apparently Congress missed out on ‘Walter to Walter’ coverage.

    “No city in the world deserves a shuttle more than Houston, certainly not New York,” Rep. Pete Olson said a release accompanying the letter. “Houston deserves answers to how this decision was made. Administrator Bolden has some explaining to do.”

    Okay, Pete, here’s an answer: It was lousy management in ‘Houston’ that lost two orbiters and killed 14 astronauts. Some pieces of one orbiter are most likely still scattered in the rural scrubbrush of Texas and the other has parts stuffed in a Florida missile silo. Feel free to construct a monument to the mixed legacy of the overbudget, oversold and underperforming space shuttle program at JSC/Houston at your leisure. NYC gets Enterprise. Get over it.

  • Ron

    Artemus wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    “Why do I get the feeling that New York’s shuttle will have a big sign next to it showing how many Head Start programs, food stamps, needle exchanges, Section 8 units, etc. it was responsible for killing?”

    because like so many on the far right you are a victim of your thoughts and fears, not of reality Robert G. Oler

    Unfortunately Artemus is right. I’m a native New Yorker and I’ve seen this attitude towards space all of my life.

    On one of my first visits to the Intrepid somebody had painted on the anchor post right in front of the ship: “Imperialist War Machine!” You don’t forget something like that.

    I remember how excited I was before the first flight of Columbia 30 years ago. I was talking about it with a co-worker. “They’re going to use that thing to drop BOMBS

  • Doug Lassiter

    Bennett wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 5:53 pm
    “Rand is right, Congress never had a shred of rational and sustainable in them. Times were different when Apollo happened, and different again when the Shuttle was designed and built. Since then it has been one epic fail after another. NASA funding has degenerated into exactly what we see in the FY11 budget.”

    If I read your words right, you’re contradicting yourself. My point was exactly that of your second point. Times were different. NASA funding has indeed degenerated. It would appear that Congress did, at one time, have a shred of rational and sustainable in them. Maybe just a shred, but it’s a shred they don’t currently have now. The President proposes, but Congress disposes. This congress has disposed of a lot of innovative and creative ideas, from several administrations.

  • Ron

    Artemus wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    “Why do I get the feeling that New York’s shuttle will have a big sign next to it showing how many Head Start programs, food stamps, needle exchanges, Section 8 units, etc. it was responsible for killing?”

    because like so many on the far right you are a victim of your thoughts and fears, not of reality Robert G. Oler

    _______________________________

    Sorry. Reposting because this crappy interface cut me off and posted my comments BEFORE I WAS FINISHED! Anyway…

    Unfortunately Artemus is right. I’m a native New Yorker and I’ve seen this attitude towards space all of my life.

    On one of my first visits to the Intrepid somebody had painted on the anchor post right in front of the ship: “Imperialist War Machine!” You don’t forget something like that.

    I remember how excited I was before the first flight of Columbia 30 years ago. I was talking about it with a co-worker. “They’re going to use that thing to drop BOMBS on people!” she proclaimed. Can you imagine that? Crazy but true.I just walked away.

    Now as of this date as far as we know none of the shuttles have been used to drop any bombs on people. Are the people of NYC any more enlightened by our space program? I fear that like most Americans they don’t even give it a second thought.Hopefully Enterprise will help change that. We’ll see.

    And that’s the reality. Sad but true.

  • Dough Lassiter wrote:

    Where the Chinese will win is not because of there inherent smarts, but because they have a strong government that can dictate sustainability.

    According to Aviation Week, China says it can’t compete with SpaceX’s prices.

    Declining to speak for attribution, the Chinese officials say they find the published prices on the SpaceX website very low for the services offered, and concede they could not match them with the Long March series of launch vehicles even if it were possible for them to launch satellites with U.S. components in them.

  • Ron wrote:

    I remember how excited I was before the first flight of Columbia 30 years ago. I was talking about it with a co-worker. “They’re going to use that thing to drop BOMBS on people!” she proclaimed. Can you imagine that? Crazy but true.I just walked away.

    In the early days, the Defense Department stopped ordering rockets because they were to use the Space Shuttle to deploy satellites. It’s not much of a stretch to foresee where someone might think the orbiter could be used to deploy a weapon.

    In fact, I recently read an article about Buran which said the Soviets developed their own Space Shuttle because they thought the reason for that big cargo bay and lift capacity might be to deploy weapons.

    Flipping that the other way, last year here in the Space Coast a woman told me she hated Obama because he cancelled Constellation which, in her words, was “a weapon to protect us from nuclear attack by the Russians.” Now that Constellation was gone, she was convinced the Russians could nuke us at their whim.

  • Ron

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    However, I wouldn’t mind if they get the unfinished carcass of the soon-to-be cancelled SLS… ;-)

    You can have it!

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 7:59 pm
    Just reviewed a late 1980 CBS Reports broadcast on the flagging shuttle program. Interesting to see what was planned and expected as opposed to what actually occurred. It was DoD requirements that added to delay through resdesign specs for carrying larger payloads. That and troubles with engine development and the tile issues that got lots of press at the time. But w/o DoD funding, shuttle would have never gotten off the ground. STS-1 planning also included a ’tile repair kit’ under development- but training constraints would have pushed back the planned March, 1981 launch (it flew in April anyway) so they shelved it.

  • Bennett

    Doug Lassiter wrote at 7:38 pm

    “Times were different. NASA funding has indeed degenerated. It would appear that Congress did, at one time, have a shred of rational and sustainable in them. “

    Eisenhower was warning of the fatal corruption between congress and industry before Apollo, and only the nuclear threat from the USSR and a fake “missle gap” rallied enough votes to get the funds necessary for a program of that scale.

    I think that Kennedy’s death made cancellation of the proposed moon landing politically impossible, but once it was accomplished, the program was soon terminated.

    I wasn’t praising Shuttle in my comment. Although it had promise as originally proposed, it became FUBAR in very short order and the culture that produced it entrenched. Here we are again, and the Shelbys of the world are still winning.

    I look back over the administrations I have lived through, and voted against, and I think it has always been the same. The old boy network, the country club, the secret handshake, and lookie here how the money rolls in!

    There have always been a few fine honorable men and women in positions of power, but they are not the norm. I am proud that my State’s three federal reps ALL voted NO on the budged as adopted. That they did so for reasons other than in protest of the SLS/MPCV travesty is not lost on me. The education of my reps is an ongoing process…

  • Ron

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    In the early days, the Defense Department stopped ordering rockets because they were to use the Space Shuttle to deploy satellites. It’s not much of a stretch to foresee where someone might think the orbiter could be used to deploy a weapon.

    ——

    Deploying weapons in space is one thing, but if you want to drop a BOMB on somebody you know as well as I do that the most efficient and effective way to do that is with an ICBM: 20-30 minutes from silo to target via the good ol’ North Pole. Try to explain something like that to my co-worker, who has no grasp of orbital mechanics and no understanding whatsoever of human spaceflight or shuttle launch criteria.

    ——

    Flipping that the other way, last year here in the Space Coast a woman told me she hated Obama because he cancelled Constellation which, in her words, was “a weapon to protect us from nuclear attack by the Russians.” Now that Constellation was gone, she was convinced the Russians could nuke us at their whim.

    ______

    lol! Hilarious but sad. Good thing final shuttle disposition wasn’t determined by the collective I.Q.s of our two different states. :-)

    If you ever run across this woman again please tell her about the United States Air Force. Please explain to her about all those missile silos still scattered throughout the mid-west. I believe the United States Navy still has a few submarines that might have a say about the matter too. :-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ron wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    “Unfortunately Artemus is right. I’m a native New Yorker and I’ve seen this attitude towards space all of my life.

    On one of my first visits to the Intrepid somebody had painted on the anchor post right in front of the ship: “Imperialist War Machine!” You don’t forget something like that.”

    there are always goofy people…there are some here. Whittington thinks that the Chinese are going to take over the Moon.

    I dont attribute that however to “New York” or even “Blue States”. Whittington is as red as they come…and he thinks that Mike Griffin is going to come back as NASA administrator. (see his blog)…

    Goofy is as goofy does Robert G. Oler

  • Ross Taylor

    Stephen C. Smith (and others) – you say Houston put in a poor bid and then you ask to see it. Clearly, you can’t know it was poor. The Dayton Daily News wrote a little over a week ago about Houston’s effort. They seem to think it was a good effort. The article says Houston committed $50M in addition to the required $29M. Not bad, especially since the orbiter would probably be free to the public to view as the Saturn V is.

    But despite that, it shouldn’t be important how well or poorly a few leaders in Houston did at bidding for a Shuttle. Not only was NASA instructed to consider history in making the selection but it makes common sense. Can you imagine the uproar if all but a small fraction of World Trade Center artifacts were removed from NYC by the government? Of course, that wouldn’t happen because it wouldn’t make sense. Neither does removing all but a small fraction of Shuttle artifacts from Houston.

  • Jim Hillhouse

    As a long-time Texas (5th Generation), I take the long view of things. I am more that happy to let the fact that Texas didn’t get a Shuttle to pass. After all, our Senator KBH killed the President’s effort to outsource the HSF program. So yeah, we weren’t going to get a Shuttle. In the balance, that’s OK. We’ve got an HSF program focused on cislunar space instead.

    It isn’t the battles you want to win but the war. The HSF war has been won. Ares I is dead. But we have Orion, Ares V and the Moon as our next BEO target. Even better, SLS and Orion saw a budget boost of $169 million and $80 million respectively. Not bad for losing.

    Commercial space absolutists will never let go of their, “Death to NASA!” chant. Eventually LEO commercial crew launch will happen. But not on Elon’s timescale. Rather, it will be when Congress’ and the post-current NASA Management decide, after a large number of flawless cargo missions, that the commercial launchers are ready. Just like Mike was going to do.

    In the meantime, one hopes that the regular space advocate will get behind the new program of record. Given the history of the space advocacy community, that is unlikely. But some of us remain eternally hopeful.

  • DCSCA

    @Ken Murphy wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Well said.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim Hillhouse wrote @ April 16th, 2011 at 12:00 am

    lol Robert G. Oler

  • Americans in general are notoriously sore losers.

  • Ross Taylor wrote:

    But despite that, it shouldn’t be important how well or poorly a few leaders in Houston did at bidding for a Shuttle. Not only was NASA instructed to consider history in making the selection but it makes common sense.

    Location wasn’t the only criterion, and that’s what the Houston people fail to admit.

    Bidders were also required to show they had the money to safe and deliver the vehicle, to build an appropriate display, how that display would educate the public about Shuttle, and to maintain it in the future.

    Houston’s bid was lacking compared to the others. The KSC Visitor Complex, for example, put $100 million on the line.

    If location was the only criterion, then Enterprise could have gone to the Edwards AFB museum. But they don’t have the money to build a display, so they didn’t even submit a bid.

    If the people in Houston want to find someone to blame, all they need do is look in a mirror.

  • ok then

    If WH politics were in play, as some have suggested, you’d see two in Ohio and two in Florida. NYC is not in play.

    Maybe three in Ohio, an IOU for an SLS display and another ride for John Glenn.

  • Paul D.

    The display of these objects in museums is at its core a political act — theater for the glorification of the state — so of course the decision is also political. Complaining about that is rank hypocrisy.

  • vulture4

    To me it makes little difference where it is displayed. Grounded, it is just a tourist attraction. The visitors that file past the Saturn V don’t offer to pay higher taxes so we an build it again. Many don’t think of it as any more “real” than Disneyland or Star Trek. Sentiment and symbols are not worth $18 billion tax dollars a year; NASA must provide practical benefits. In Houston, however, a Shuttle might remind the leaders of our space program that at one time we could build a real spaceship that could land on a runway, like an airplane, and fly again.

  • Justin Kugler

    The new “program of record” has many of the same flaws as Constellation, Jim. Poorly defined mission scope, no business case for the primary rocket, no defined payloads for BEO exploration, etc.

    The only good things are that we aren’t dropping the ISS in the Pacific and there is some money for space tech and commercial crew development.

  • Coastal Ron

    Jim Hillhouse wrote @ April 16th, 2011 at 12:00 am

    We’ve got an HSF program focused on cislunar space instead.

    If that’s so, then it’s all hat, no cattle, as you texans like to say.

    Congress hasn’t funded a cislunar program, and in fact they haven’t funded ANY programs that use the SLS yet. 2016 is coming up pretty fast, and it looks like not even a simple mission using the SLS will not be ready – how brilliant does that make KBH look? What a waste of taxpayer dollars.

    In the meantime, in a reality-based world, commercial cargo will be going into it’s second generation contract for ISS support, and commercial crew, which is mandated by Congress as the primary method of LEO support for the ISS, will be getting ready to take over crew duty from the Russian Soyuz for U.S. astronauts.

    Maybe the MPCV will be allowed enough budget for a shakedown cruise, but that doesn’t require the untried SLS. Commercial cargo and crew will be doing the real work of moving people and supplies to and from space, while NASA will be waiting for more earmarks in order to afford to do any “exploration”, which won’t be much because of the funding the SLS requires to sit around.

    For someone that appears to be “conservative”, you sure want to depend on the government a lot. Weird.

  • Vladislaw

    “Commercial space absolutists will never let go of their, “Death to NASA!” chant.”

    Having been reading this blog for six years I have failed to ever see anyone chanting “Death to NASA”, except for 1 or 2 posters who wants to see it rolled into the DOD, pretty much WITHOUT EXCEPTION posters are pro NASA.

    Wanting to see NASA get out of the routine business of designing, developing, cost plus contracting to have them built and then handing launch operations and turning that over to private enterprise is HARDLY calling for the death of NASA.

    To say only NASA can handle this form of transportation and guarantee safety to astronauts is lunacy. If that is the case NASA should be designing, developing, contracting at cost plus EVERY single form of transportation an astronaut may use. From bicycles to automobiles, planes, trains, and boats NASA should handle every form of transportation that an astronaut may every use.

    We want NASA out of the launch business for only one reason, commercial can do it cheaper and that leaves NASA with a LOT MORE funds to pursue beyond earth orbit exploration.

  • reader

    To say only NASA can handle this form of transportation and guarantee safety to astronauts is lunacy

    The letters from both Roscosmos and CNSA read : “Obviously”

  • pathfinder_01

    “We want NASA out of the launch business for only one reason, commercial can do it cheaper and that leaves NASA with a LOT MORE funds to pursue beyond earth orbit exploration.”

    Yes this is what people who support commercial want. If NASA developed a 40 ton lox/methane earth departure stage, it could be launched by both an EELV phase I or Falcon 9 Heavy. This would be cheaper and faster than building SLS and give us experience with a technology that could be useful on Mars. You could do BEO missions by either launching Orion unmanned to the ISS, followed by a crew on a commercial capsule and latter an earth departure stage. Or man rate an EELV capable of lifting Orion manned and rendezvous in LEO. Both options are cheaper than developing a totally new rocket.

    IF NASA develops SLS its budget gets eaten before it even gets a chance to launch anything. It is like buying a new $60,000 car when you only make $20,000 a year. You could afford somthing used or public tranist or maybe an very cheap subcompact but you can not afford the Escalde.

  • Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    there are always goofy people…

    Yes, there are always goofy people. That’s why I initially cringed when I read Artemus’ tongue-in-cheek predictions. I, for one, will be exceedingly ecstatic if they never come to pass. But we’re talking about NYC. A lot of goofy people here.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Doug Lassiter wrote:

    “Where the Chinese will win is not because of there inherent smarts, but because they have a strong government that can dictate sustainability.”

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    “According to Aviation Week, China says it can’t compete with SpaceX’s prices.”

    Correct. I was referring to federally funded and managed space flight. Now, I’m not confident that commercial can achieve the kinds of goals we’re looking to achieve, but I see it more and more as perhaps the only credible route, because of the policy incompetence of our congress.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Jim Hillhouse wrote @ April 16th, 2011 at 12:00 am

    “But we have Orion, Ares V and the Moon as our next BEO target.”

    That’s news to me. As a rock, that probably makes sense that the Moon would be our next HSF target (the idea of going to a NEO is pretty far-fetched), but it sure isn’t at the top of any agency or congressional priority list. Reference, please? Then again, I guess that’s just as believable as an “Ares V”, which I assume you mean an HLV. That too might be a good idea, but it’s not going to come to pass on any short timescale unless Congress starts throwing big boxes of cash. Bigger than $1.8B per year.

    “In the meantime, one hopes that the regular space advocate will get behind the new program of record.”

    “Get behind”? Oh, you mean to get out of the way when Congress starts throwing those big boxes of cash? Very good idea!

  • Ross Taylor

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 16th, 2011 at 6:13 am:
    “Houston’s bid was lacking compared to the others.”

    Did you read the link I posted, or even my entire comment? I don’t believe you have read Houston’s bid; if so, please post details. The best information I’ve found is in the Dayton News article I posted a link to. It says Houston planned to spend $80M. Sure, it’s not quite $100M, but I hope it didn’t just come down to highest bidder.

    I can only presume that the plan was to display it at Rocket Park with the Saturn V and other rockets. This is an ideal situation because it is on the Space Center Houston tour and therefore draws more people to SCH and economic benefit for our area. Yet Rocket Park is free to the public so if someone wanted to see the Shuttle and Saturn V but couldn’t afford to or didn’t want to pay, they could still see it. I suspect, but don’t know, that this is unique among the proposals and a great compromise for tourists.

  • Here’s a guest commentary on the Houston Chronicle web site explaining why Houston struck out:

    … Because there are only a limited number of these pieces, there has to be a way to be “fair” in awarding them, so it’s up to the museums to submit the best bid. If a museum wants something, it puts in a bid in accordance with the published rules. If Houston did not get an orbiter, it’s because the Space Center Houston bid was not considered good enough. That includes two important factors: facilities and tourism. With limited number of other space artifacts to be distributed (engines, simulators, mockups, etc.), according to the rules made available at the time, the museum had to bid on those too. If Houston did not get a simulator, it’s because either the Space Center Houston bid was sub-par or they didn’t bid on the item at all. See a pattern developing here? Maybe someone assumed that Houston would automatically get something because it’s right next to JSC. But Space Center Houston is a separate entity that does not automatically get JSC’s hand-me-downs. How bad could their bid have been that they didn’t get anything except a pair of seats?

  • CollectSpace.com has depictions of all the proposals:

    http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-032911b.html

    Houston appeared to do no more than park an orbiter on the floor. The same with Dayton. Neither seems particularly inspired. That’s probably why they lost.

  • amightywind

    “According to Aviation Week, China says it can’t compete with SpaceX’s prices.”

    How can they? Their prices are utterly fictitious. SpaceX is burning capital, not making money. One can only hope that viable competitors are not driven to ruin while SpaceX commits hari-kari.

  • Steven

    Politics is all over this now and then!

    Houston was chosen in the first place because of politics! Lyndon Johnson being a Texan is why it was placed here. And Rice University gave the land. That’s why it’s in Houston.

    Obama hates Texas because of Bush! And if I’m not mistaken the Vice President has some big say in NASA so Biden followed Obama’s wishes.

  • Steven wrote:

    Houston was chosen in the first place because of politics! Lyndon Johnson being a Texan is why it was placed here. And Rice University gave the land. That’s why it’s in Houston.

    Your ignorance of history is showing. It was Rep. Albert Thomas, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, who had the most influence on bringing the Manned Spacecraft Center to Houston. He pulled the same stunt in the late 1950s with Eisenhower, trying to force NASA to locate some labs in Houston.

    Go read the recently released John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon by Dr. John Logsdon for the facts. Logsdon is the nation’s pre-eminent space historian.

  • guest

    The depictions of the proposals basically show that most are nothing more than the Shuttle in a building. This is all the New York, Dayton, Houston, Chicago, and Virginia proposals show. Some of the proposals include a color illustration and some talk briefly about the nature of the exhibit, including Houston’s. There does not seem to be a lot of difference between most of the submissions, winning or otherwise.

    Only Florida’s proposal shows something significantly different with the Orbiter hanging at an angle with the payload bay doors open. Florida, which has the added benefit of lots of tourist dollars flowing freely, always does things in a big way. Of course Florida already has two Orbiters that visitors can walk around and inside of and another ‘launch experience’ ride. For $45 you can already spend half a day in Florida experiencing the Shuttle.

  • Justin Kugler

    The only fiction is coming from you, windy. In your world, those contracts with Loral, Iridium, SES, and NASA and that memorandum they just signed to enter the DoD market don’t exist.

  • Malmesbury

    It’s interesting to hear the stages of denial about SpaceX.

    The latest stage seems to be:

    1) their prices *must* rise to the same cost as my pet rocket
    2) there are no payloads for FH
    3) DoD will never fly on FH – no matter how low the price.

    I wonder what the list will be this time next year?

  • Scott Bass

    Anyone know if Houston has a shuttle mock up Luke the one at ksc? After ksc gets thir shuttle they could ship their mock up to Houston, I am not saying it is all that nice but it is at least something although they could probably just build one for the price of disassembly and shipping cost, anyway I don’t see ksc really needing that afterwards, I am sure some museum would like to have it and maybe improve it.

  • Scott Bass

    I think the bottom line is that it makes no sense to put a shuttle somewhere that is not a tourist destination. I can’t even imagine telling my kIds we are going to Houston for spring break, All the choices make sense from that perspective,it’s just sour grapes for those who lost.

  • Ross Taylor

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 17th, 2011 at 8:16 am
    “Here’s a guest commentary”

    This is just an opinion that, as far as I can tell, is not based on any more facts than you or I have. It does not add anything substantial to this discussion.

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 17th, 2011 at 8:26 am
    “CollectSpace.com has depictions of all the proposals”

    Thanks for posting this! It is interesting but I must agree with guest that the only one that really stands out is the KSC depiction. However, I do agree that, unless the SCH proposal included more details we don’t know about, this is a poor presentation.

    That said, I still stand by my assertion that history is more important than money, presentation, or foot traffic. We don’t simply move historical artifacts so more people can see them. They should be in a place where they have historical significance and they should help to draw tourists, not simply be put where the tourists already are.

  • Vladislaw

    “We don’t simply move historical artifacts so more people can see them. “

    Ah .. actually we do … ALL THE TIME… there are many traveling exhibitions of historical artifacts traveling across the planet. Does King Tut ring a bell?

    What good is spending all the money to preserve, house, and maintain historical artifacts if no one ever comes to see them.

  • BRC

    Let me say that I agree with all the posters who pointed out that Houston didn’t get it because they just “didn’t get it” – they just sat on their chapped haunches and were acting like it was a done deal by virtue of their great reputatoin, that they had no need to: argue for, or lobby, or show plans (with funding) on how they’d take care of a shuttle, or ANY such activities that would have shown that they were EARNEST in wanting one of those precious birds, and that they would do “this and such” to not only make it so, but to make it sustainable.

    But no, it was as if they just asumed that by… oh, I don’t know… by virtue of their awesome reputation of being “JSC”, wrapped in its own “NASA-ness” and filled with the light of Texas… that a Shuttle would just be handed to them on a platter, with great fanfare and with little or no labor on their part. <– Yes, that was all sarcasm… PO’d sarcasm! Because with all things being equal, I honestly believe that they should have merited one of those space-flight birds… but all things were NOT equal, and they’ve only themselves to blame!

    Only during the last few months did JSC/Houston/TX and their Congressional reps start a very tardy run of lobbying. Meanwhile, everyone else was well into the competition. Some like WA went so far as to design/contract/started building a facility — going overboard IMHO; but even though I agree that they didn’t merit selection, I still give them points for trying hard (unlike certain whiners-come-lately).

    OK, now that I having gotten that diatribe out of my system, I actually find myself in full agreement with that quote from Chaffetz: "The legislation would give JSC “Shuttle Endeavor” [sic] while the California Science Center, which was to get Endeavour, would instead get Enterprise; the Smithsonian and KSC would keep Discovery and Atlantis, respectively.”

    I am amazed to see that his idea matched my original choice – although it was a toss up to me between LA and the AF Museum in OH, for the Enterprise. It makes the most logical sense, especially given that almost all of Enterprise’s glide tests were done in CA.

  • common sense

    @Ross Taylor wrote @ April 18th, 2011 at 11:44 am

    “That said, I still stand by my assertion that history is more important than money, presentation, or foot traffic. We don’t simply move historical artifacts so more people can see them. They should be in a place where they have historical significance and they should help to draw tourists, not simply be put where the tourists already are.”

    Well your assertion is wrong. And if you were to be right you’d have to define a quantifiable system to measure how one place is more historically significant than another one and you just cannot. It only is your opinion and it does not stand.

  • guest wrote:

    Of course Florida already has two Orbiters that visitors can walk around and inside of and another ‘launch experience’ ride.

    Tell you what … If you think two plywood replicas equates to a “real” orbiter then we’ll just one to Houston and one to Dayton and call it square. We need to dump them anyway to make room for a “real” one.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ross Taylor wrote @ April 16th, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    well now not so much.

    I live in Houston (Clear Lake and Santa Fe) and Rich Kolker (when he lived in Houston) and I use to meet routinely for lunch there on….Wed I believe (Rich when you get to Africa chime in here if you recall)…we did Chinese on Tuesday and Friday. (the Oriental Gourmet)

    Space Center Houston is interesting but that is about all one can say for it. I’ve spent a lot of time at the USS Intrepid museum and it is a far superior exhibit both the ship and the planes on her deck.

    Clear Lake is not exactly tourist destination number 1. The folks who I have gotten tours or given tours to are gee whized for a bit but then it turns into just another government facility…Of all the places “at” JSC the place that has been the most entertaining to the folks who I have taken on tours of…is the Sonny Carter facility.

    If the goal was to get a place where lots of tourist would come and see the orbiters…well The Intrepid was the place.

    People will see politics in just about anything that they like but to see it in this decision is really goofy

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Ross Taylor wrote @ April 18th, 2011 at 11:44 am

    That said, I still stand by my assertion that history is more important than money, presentation, or foot traffic.

    How can you quantify “history”?

    That is the problem with justifications like “history”, in that it boils down to intangibles. How the L.A. area perceives it’s history (all Shuttle built there, all landed there at some point) is different than how Houston does (home of Johnson Space Center, w/lots of space related activities), or Ohio. By what universally accepted method do you measure “history”?

    And what if that history turns out to be a location that few people visit? If that historic location was somewhere where few people would see it, then is it the best place for the true owners, the 311 million citizens of the U.S., to appreciate it?

    My city didn’t get a Shuttle, but then again we didn’t have a connection to the Shuttle program. Still, I’m sure that there are lots of people in my city that would like visit one when it goes on display, but I don’t think they will be traveling there just to see it, but wouldn’t mind visiting it if it’s nearby.

    My $0.02

  • reader

    I think one of the Shuttles needs to go to San Francisco instead. So that all the chinese here can gawk at it in awe and start thinking its a good idea to build and fly one.

    That will keep them busy for next 30 years, making sure they dont make any real progress.

  • Ross Taylor

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 18th, 2011 at 4:32 pm
    “there are many traveling exhibitions”

    True, but we aren’t talking about a traveling exhibit. We are talking about the permanent home of the Shuttles.

    common sense & Coastal Ron – Perhaps, the Shuttle decision was purely quantitative. Maybe foot traffic and bid price were the only important factors. If so, the discussion can end, but I would wonder why it took so long to announce the winners if it was a simple formula.

    The fact is that the decision was supposed to include the cities’ connection to the Shuttle program. New York has none. And this isn’t the only intangible that has to be weighed in the decision. Perhaps, I came across as implying history should be the only deciding factor. That was not my intention. I simply think it should be weighted higher in the decision than the quantitative factors.

    BTW…I guarantee there are many people in my city (Houston) that would like to see a shuttle on display. Many that have worked for decades on the program without ever seeing one in person. They would love to see one if it were near by, but the closest one will be nearly 1000 miles away. I hope that they will all be able to make that trip to see one, but it is unlikely.

  • common sense

    @ Ross Taylor wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I do not know whether it was but who said it was a “simple” formula?

    Well the world does not revolve around Houston sorry.

  • guest

    Stephen C. Smith wrote
    Space Center Houston is a separate entity that does not automatically get JSC’s hand-me-downs. How bad could their bid have been that they didn’t get anything except a pair of seats?

    Actually Space Center Houston, while operated like it is a separate entity, is the JSC visitor’s center, was established by JSC, and JSC people oversee the actual hardware and JSC people are still supposed to sit on SCHs Board of Directors. Its similar to the arrangement at KSC where NASA people oversee and direct work on the exhibits though it is done by a contractor that is paid out of revenues from your KSC Visitors Center.

    So JSC is just as ‘guilty’ as are the people of SCH, probably moreso because JSC should actually have an interest in the history (they have the historian), their people’s work (the engineers and managers who oversaw all Shuttle work at JSC) and the exhibits (JSC still oversees all the actual space hardware). It is also a NASA Headquarters responsibility that hardware is handled appropriately. Everyone at JSC works for the AAs in Space Ops and Exploration, and they all work for Bolden. Bolden should have had the interests of the space program, space program history, Space Operations, the Shuttle Program, and JSC in mind, along with those of the rest of the US people. If the SCH Houston bid was inadequate it was due as much to NASA issues and lack of coordination.

    “If you think two plywood replicas equates to a “real” orbiter then we’ll just send one to Houston and one to Dayton and call it square. We need to dump them anyway to make room for a “real” one.”

    OK, JSC will accept one. We never had a real, complete life sized Orbiter. Several of our mock-ups and trainers were nothing more than plywood in the shape of an Orbiter crew compartment or fuselage. They had real looking hardware where real hardware was needed to make the training convincing. Ours had history-all the crews trained in them but now all are going elsewhere, so we are left with nothing. So we accept your offer of one of the mock-up Orbiters from Florida.

  • LovelyRita

    I’m hopeful Houston will open a “Broadway Hall of Fame” in retaliation.

  • Jacob D. Welch

    All I can say is I grew up in Houston & it seems a logical choice because of the city’s history. Houston, as we all know, is home to the Johnson Space Center (Space Center Houston) one of NASA’s popular visitors centers. I may not be well educated (I’m in 10th grade) but I can see when politics plays into decisions. What makes it even worse is, I herd the man that supposedly made the decision lives in Houston! But no matter how ignorant & mentally deficient people who make the decisions for us (the American people as a whole) are, Houston has been & always will be space city Even if the government doesn’t like it.

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