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NASA decision to send space shuttle to L.A. is 'shameful,' 'tawdry politics,' critics say


Los Angeles' surprise win in its bid to house NASA's space shuttle Endeavour has sparked anger in Texas and Ohio, which were seen as favorites to land one of the three retiring spacecraft.

Texans couldn't understand how their state, home to NASA's Mission Control, could be passed over for a space shuttle. Nor could people in Ohio, site of the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

They called for a congressional investigation and charged that politics played a role in NASA's decision to send Endeavour to Los Angeles, Atlantis to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Discovery to the Smithsonian in northern Virginia. The shuttle prototype Enterprise will head to New York.

"It is unthinkable that the home of human space flight would not represent the ideal home for a retired orbiter," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). Houston Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement, "There was no other city with our history of human space flight or more deserving of a retiring orbiter. It is unfortunate that political calculations have prevailed in the final decision."

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) branded the decision "tawdry politics."

And Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), vowed, "The fight is not over.'' Brown, who sought to bring a shuttle to the National Air Force Museum at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, joined other members of Ohio's congressional delegation in calling for an investigation into the selection process.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden could face a tough time when he next appears before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.

One of its members, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) called the decision "shameful."

"Houston is home to a generation of astronauts, scientists and engineers at the Johnson Space Center who have guided every shuttle mission and who have personally grieved the loss of friends and family who gave their lives in the name of space exploration," he said. "On this historic day their unmatched contributions are ignored in favor of two states, New York and California, whose investment in America's space program pales in comparison."


Los Angeles lands shuttle Endeavour

Space shuttle Endeavour coming to California Science Center

Endeavour could come to L.A. by year's end

-- Richard Simon in Washington

Photo: Space shuttle Endeavour prepares to touch down at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on July 31, 2009. NASA has announced that Endeavour will find a permanent home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Credit: Matt Stroshane / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (180)

"...California, whose investment in America's space program pales in comparison."

Ummmm... California was where all the shuttles were constructed, and where the only other launch site (Vandenberg AFB) for rockets is located, and where the shuttles landed when Florida was unavailable.

You're right CA contributed nothing to the space program.

I live outside of LA and I agree in no way does LA deserve this piece of US scientific achievement.

Los Angeles...the cutting edge of America. If a person reads history correctly, there would be no Endeavour , were it not for the true science developed in California in the forties, fifties, and sixties. These lands, in-full with Spanish names, are the spiritual soul of America's manifest destiny. Certainly not Texas, a certified rebel state.

Isn't the fact the Houston is the home of the Space Center a prime example of tawdry politics? The Space Shuttle has a lot of design and production based in Southern California.

At least Dayton Ohio is the home of the Wright brothers. That would be truly a historic basis. Los Angeles has the advantage of being accessible to a greater number of people, being the second largest city in the country.

I'm glad at least one space shuttle is making it to the west coast. why should us west-coasters have to travel across the country just to see a shuttle?

Tough luck TX and OH. We in CA loved and supported the Shuttle program too. Get over it.

People should complain why NY got a shuttle...or anything related to the shuttle. Someone needs to explain why NY got it, minus the tourist population. I don't recall what NY did in terms of the shuttle or NASA. DC already represents the east coast. CA represents the west and that's usually where the shuttle lands as a backup. that's where endeavour was build. so CA is a logical choice.

Having it in OH would be good because it would represent the midwest. Too bad there isn't enough shuttles to go around where houston could get one...but FL represents the south.

In this era of insane, short-sighted, damn-the-future budget cutting by the anti-science Republican party, NASA needs to build as much popular support as it can. Putting the shuttles in the most highly visited areas gives them that. Putting them in Texas, hotbed of intelligent design and climate change denial Texas, will be a futile exercise because that will not change the anti-science views and votes of the Texas congressional delegation.

Too bad for the small fraction of Texans who have devoted their lives and careers to the space program but they should blame the rest of their state for making Texas a science-hostile environment.

This is a textbook example of what is wrong with modern journalism -- We only get half the story, and the most superficial half at that. The important information is not that there is a *controversy* over where the shuttles go, but *why* they went where they did. What was behind the NASA administrator(s)' decision to send them to big tourist markets? Does NASA get a percentage of the boxoffice? Was money paid to NASA? Is it about creating the largest public awareness of the space program? Is it there some sort of quid-pro-quo between NASA and influential congresspeople in those cities? That's what we want to know. The journalism sector covers everything like it's a horserace or a fistfight. All journalism is sports journalism these days.

The shuttle was designed and built in Southern California, so it makes sense to bring it back to it's birthplace. It is the politicians in Texas and Ohio who are playing the politics right now.

The space shuttle was built here. What are these 'politians' crying about saying it's 'politics'? If a space shuttle belongs in a museum anywhere, it's in Southern California.

I hate to inform the Texas congressman but California and New York are ahead of Texas in amount of federal taxes revenues paid. So technically California and New York residents owe more of the shuttles. Also since Texas wants to secede from the United States based on their Governor's comments I really don't want an American treasure going to a foreign nation like Texas.

A congressional investigation? Come on! Let's waste more tax payer money. The decision has been made, leave it alone and move on.

Chicago, IL (we didn't win it either)

The decision to send a shuttle to Los Angeles doesn't bother me so much as the fact that none of the 3 active shuttles should be retired in the first place. These $2 billion dollar apiece vehicles are all in excellent operating condition and were built to fly many more missions. At the very least the shuttle fleet should be maintained in mothball status by NASA until such time as new leadership in Washington realizes their value to the nation and elects to return them to service.

"...California, whose investment in America's space program pales in comparison."

Really? I can't speak for New York, but having the shuttle just a few miles from JPL and the shuttle's alternate landing site - Edwards Air Force Base - seems very appropriate. There are only three shuttles; some state is going to lose out.

Let’s see… Rockwell International, located in Downey, California, was the birthplace of the systems for the Apollo space program as well as the space shuttle, and the Rockwell NASA plant produced and tested many of the greatest aviation, missile, and space endeavors of the 20th century. Marquardt in Van Nuys provided the thrusters used on the Space Shuttle. Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara is a major spaceport for commercial and military space operations, and shuttles landed on more than one occasion at Edwards AFB in the Mojave Desert (no need to contributions to American aerospace that came out of there, but you can read Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” or rent the DVD, if necessary). Considering that all of the shuttles were built in Southern California, I fail to see how this state’s “investment in America's space program “pales in comparison” to that of Texas. Sour grapes on the part of Mr. McCaul, perhaps?

Yes we pale in comparison......the thing was built here for crying out loud!

Perhaps these politicians forget that the Space Shuttles were built in large part in Southern California and that JPL, Boeing, TRW. Lockheed and others that were instrumental to the space program are based here. Sour grapes from states that don't necessarily support the programs or science in the first place.

Ironic that Texas legislatures are upset over a federal program not choosing them to hold on to a wonderful piece of history...Hmmm, I guess that's what happens when you cut, and cut, and cut their budget, and refuse to stand up for a program that helps us understand the Universe. Educational programs that can benefit everyone in the United States, and on a larger scale the World... all the while allowing us to obtain wonderful inventions such as Velcro, and many others that made their way to Consumers...Hmm Ironic indeed...

I know... the fact that the shuttle orbiters had, as a primary contractor, a Southern California firm (Rockwell), were assembled out in Palmdale (Southern CA), were flight-tested (and had initial landing sites) at Edwards AFB in.. well... Southern California, probably had no bearing on the decision.


Sour grapes. Clearly there were several factors in the decision such as the damn thing was built out here and with two of the shuttles camped out on the east coast it made sense to have at least one on the west coast.

Wow some Texas legislators are so ignorant they don't even realize the shuttles were built in SoCal, not to mention JPL, Edwards AFB, etc. Not surprising.

Also shouldn't they be glad they're not getting a symbol of federal wasteful spending that they're always complaining about? Sort of like how they accepted stimulus money to cover up state debt, then complained about it afterwards. I agree Houston should have gotten it over NYC, but when you start calling the kettle black...

My, my how quickly they forget that it was polituical muscle (spelled LBJ) that put the Space Center in Houston. Now when it doesn't give them a prize they cry fowl, and then of course immediately line up political clout to try and muscle their way to getting what they want. How transparent...

The Air Force Museum?? The space shuttle isn't a military machine (although used for Department of Defense missions) so why does the Air Force Museum feel snubbed about not getting a shuttle?

Cry me a river...

It was built in So. California and deserves to come back home to the land of its birth.

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