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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)

Texans have an ego to match their hats but nothing matches the air that flows through. Empty.....

Hey texas and ohio

We built the Shuttles and have more aviation history in California then you two combined

Californian's response to Texas residents HATERS GONNA HATE!

Bottom line: the L.A. population doesn't give a squat about the SPACE PROGRAM like the way the populations in Florida (Cape Canaveral) and Texas (Houston) care about their respective space centers. Yes, pork is all over the place when thinking of NASA but still trying to figure out how NY of all places gets a retired shuttle. Been on temp duty at Edwards AFB (I'm a frmr USAF flight surgeon and know test pilots there yrs ago)...all for the shuttle being THERE, but L.A.? I hope L.A. truly cares for its shuttle and less on BOTOX or plastic surgery...

Naturally any site which lost out would be disappointed, but I really think if the distribution had been more even (LA, TX, FL, DC), there would not be so much outcry. I doubt that people in New York would really notice or care that much if they were not chosen. We should consider how much it means to the community bidding for it. The space shuttle probably means more emotionally to Houston than any of the other bidders.

Texas already has it's shuttle, courtesy of George W. Bush's budget cutting.

It's spread all over the state. Go pick it up

I remember hearing the sonic boom every time I was at home in the West San Fernando Valley and would then immediately turn on the television to see the space shuttle landing at Edwards AFB in Palmdale, not to mention hearing the space shuttle engine tests at Rocketdyne in Canoga Park (the place with the giant rocket engine on the lawn near Canoga Park HS), the sound was unmistakeable. To listen to these politicians from Texas and Ohio complain after KNOWING California's involvement in the Space Shuttle program is ludicrous and beyond pathetic. Doesn't Congress have enough on its plate without having to rehash and educate these foolish politicos about facts they should already be familiar with?

I won't attempt to wade through the scores of comments, but I will leave my two cents:

The Smithsonian was all but guaranteed one of the shuttles, so I thought the remaining ones should have been parsed out in this order:

1. Florida (the K.S.C.)
2. Houston (the J.S.C.)
2. Somewhere in California

The first two are sort of obvious--massive amounts of work for our space program--esp. in the shuttle era-- occurred on those two sites. It just makes sense to house them there for history's sake, and also considering that workers and scientists based at those centers who most heavily dealt with the loss of the shuttles' two lost sister craft.

California also makes sense given our state's heavy involvement in aerospace, most significantly Edwards A.F.B.'s role as alternate shuttle landing site, N.A.S.A.'s many research and development teams located here (J.P.L., e.g.), and (further back) our role in manufacturing various rockets, capsules, and other spacecraft for decades.

That said, for reasons of regional distribution, it would have made sense to house one of the shuttles in the Midwest somewhere; it does not, however, seem fair to have three shuttles on the eastern seaboard, especially with two fairly close together (D.C. and N.Y.). There's really no reason why New York should have gotten a shuttle given the above historical and regional considerations.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)should be reminded that the space shuttle was built in California and the Enterprise was initially flown in California, and the first shuttle landings were done in California.
And if he's really concerned about politicizing decisions by NASA why doesn't he look into why the 'Johnson' space center was put in Texas to begin with, he may be in for a surprise!

I say Texas is shameful....executing mentally retarded people, dirtiest air quality in the nation, neglect of poor and children. Clean up your own backyard.

Texas politicians are upset over dirty politics - now THAT's funny!

Politics? Isn't everything nowadays? A congressional hearing? Really? How much would that cost in tax payer revenue from states that were never even in the running and how long would it take to resolve? New York I didn't really understand until I thought about this.... Where would be the most justified locations as well as be seen and heralded by as many people as possible. Does Houston deserve one? Absolutely! However, they also have TONS of other historical space artifacts and the NATION paid for this. Not Houston. This is the pride of the USA, not 2 individual towns.

Gosh, we built the shuttle here in Southern California and it landed nearby pretty often. Ought we not to have something to remember all the work done here?
Talk about politics and boondoggles! How did JOHNSON Space Center end up in Texas, anyway?

There are a lot of people with amnesia or who are just too plain lazy to see that it makes sense for the shuttles to go where they were placed. Florida? That where they all take off and the majority of missions land. California? The shuttles were built there and it is the location of the shuttle programs other landing site. D.C.? It's the Smithsonian, stupid. The only one that seems questionable? New York City, but millions of people visit New York City. Who in their right mind goes to Houston or Dayton when they go on vacation?

Shouldn't these two politicians be worrying more about the deficit and their state's uenemployment rate?

Why are these two politicians putting their focus on this. The country has a trillion dollar deficit and a huge unemployment problem.

... like I said, if only people cared a fraction of what they do about a museum artifact than the current state of NASA, perhaps NASA would have some direction instead of the uncertainty facing human space exploration

Sour grapes. The Shuttle landed many times at Edwards Air Force Base and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is in Pasadena. The shuttle never landed in Texas or Ohio! Besides, Texas has Mission Control! Get over it.

This is bull. Are they really saying LA didn't deserved one? Yeah, LA didn't do jack for the space program except build, engineered, tested, and manufactured the shuttles that were sent to Houston to launch.

What's NASA's jet propulsion laboratory in LA for? Give me a break.

Why LA got Endeavor?

Three words: Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

JPL basically IS the space program.

"Surprise win" and "shameful"?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?! CALIFORNIA BUILT THAT SHUTTLE; ALL OF NASA'S SPACE SHUTTLES WERE BUILT IN PALMDALE, CALIFORNIA... MY HOMETOWN!!! We built it, we get it- simple as that. There is no political conspiracy going on and therefore absolutely NOTHING to investigate. Why do some politicians insist on wasting time "investigating" on decisions made rationally? Don't they have better things to do than to pick petty fights over something like this?

In addition, do I see someone from LA agreeing with Texas on this matter, saying "they've been there from the beginning"?! Ummm, the fancy mission control centers they have there are WORTH NOTHING WITHOUT THE SPACE SHUTTLES THAT CALIFORNIA BUILT! And do I see someone else saying that we would not properly appreciate having the Space Shuttle in California?! It seems like I'm going to have to say this again: CALIFORNIA BUILT THOSE SPACE SHUTTLES! Of course we appreciate them AND the space program, otherwise we wouldn't have built the Space Shuttles in the first place, we wouldn't have NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center nor would we have NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech, and more. Some of these people obviously don't know about the rich aviation history we have right here in Southern California. Be learned on the topic before you speak.

Politicians calling this "tawdry politics" and "shameful" when they don't even know about the rich aviation history we have in California, ain't that some garbage?! Ignorant politicians disgust me.

Moral of the story: If the Space Shuttles were born in California, California should be the rightful home of retirement for Endeavour. I hope NASA will stand their ground on their decision to send Space Shuttle Endeavour back to Southern California. "Shameful" would be taking Endeavour away from its true birthplace.

"the home of human space flight"? ... that would be Baikonur, Kasakhstan then. :)

LA and NYC are large, heavily visited cities, so from a purely bang-for-buck consideration, it makes sense that one Orbiter would end up in each city. It gives these the national assets the most exposure to the most Americans. And NYC, of course, isn't getting a "real" (spacefaring) Orbiter, but the Smithsonian's hand-me-down test vehicle. It's a shame about Dayton, Ohio especially, but there were only so many Orbiters left. (How much better it would have been had two not been destroyed, killing 14 people - extra museum exhibits being the least of it.)

Why does New York get one? Houston should've got one! California deserves one because we build shuttles here!

Sorry, but NYC did NOT deserve any shuttle, period. DC, LA, and FL have much, much more valid reasons for receiving them because they are either the home of the Smithsonian (which is enough reason itself), the birthplace of the shuttles/place of numerous landings, or, the launchpad for the missions, respectively. That said, Houston should have received one of the main shuttles and LA the prototype perhaps. It doesn't matter that millions will be able to see it in NYC, that's not enough justification compared to the ties of history, regardless if that's what was stated as a reason for choosing the city. They have to give a reason for this travesty anyway, don't they? Plus, it's not like the Smithsonian gets only 50 visitors per year. The legislators are right to go after NYC.

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