'Houston, we've had a problem'
April 12th, 2011
05:33 PM ET

'Houston, we've had a problem'

The idea that "home of manned spaceflight" won't be home to one of NASA's retired shuttles isn't sitting so well with some.

The Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, was considered a strong contender to receive one of four retired space shuttles.

Instead, the honors have gone to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida (Atlantis); the California Science Center in Los Angeles (Endeavour); the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia (Discovery); and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York (Enterpise), NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. said Tuesday.

Many in Space City are none too pleased by the snub, considering the role it has played in the development of the nation's space program.

Columnists and blogs, including Jalopnik, are weighing in on "Why Houston Deserved a Damn Space Shuttle," and the news has prompted the Twittersphere to make #JSC, #Houston and #spaceshuttle trending topics in the hours since NASA made the announcement.

"Sad day in Houston," CopyDRcom tweeted, summing up the prevailing sentiments of disappointment over the decision, particularly among many who claim some connection to Johnson Space Center.

"As a former JSC co-op student/employee, I must say, in my most composed manner possible, WHAT THE HELL, NASA HQ? >:/" former JSC employee juliamontgomery said.

"Personally I am disappointed Houston/ JSC didn't get a Shuttle & from a space history standpoint deserved one. But again not surprised," ISS flight controller greg_forest said.

"Before astronauts ever boarded a space shuttle, they trained in Houston. When they orbited Earth, they phoned home to Houston," Lisa_llbc86 tweeted. "I have pickup truck. I'll sneak Endeavour back to #JSC. That's how we do it in TX"

Others, however,  felt the appropriate locations were selected.

"While I'm sad JSC isn't getting a orbiter, lot more people will see them in their chosen destinations :/," self-proclaimed "space nut" @ericmblog tweeted.

"#Shuttle destinations seem very reasonable. Glad #OV104 will be staying at home. 😉 Shame for #Adler, #JSC, but no perfect solution," astrodad said.

soundoff (239 Responses)
  1. Tat-2

    I live in the LA area and where they are putting the Shuttle may as well be in another state for as long as it would take me to get there with all the traffic..... And then trying to find parking.. Heck I could almost go to the eats coast in the same amount of time...

    April 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ignacio Sorbo

    Not to worry, we still have plenty of Space Shuttle souvenirs from when the last California-made shuttle fell from the skies.

    Too soon?

    April 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CW

    I understand the decision for California (JPL, Edwards), Florida (Kennedy), and DC (Smithsonian), but seriously, NY hasn't contributed much (if anything) to NASA or the shuttle program, not to mention its close proximity to DC (my uncle drives there every other weekend). Houston deserved one too so all children around the country get a reasonable chance to visit a shuttle.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SKSPLS

    The people of Houston and the Johnson Space Center have every right to be upset. The fact that a shuttle went to New York City rather than Houston is a travesty. Otherwise, the placement of the other shuttles seems equitable.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Realist

    What the hell is Houston complaining about?
    They already got their shuttle. It was named Columbia.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • formernasaemployee

      We got out shuttle, realist? REALLY? Columbia's astronauts were real people with family and friends. I knew several of them. They were hard working decent folks who LOVED AND LIVED IN HOUSTON. Those men and women paid the ultimate sacrifice while you get to act like an idiot online. Get a job and a life.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Space Coast

    While I sympathize with those in Houston, by the same token, if it hadn't been for President Johnson pilfering Cape Canaveral, they wouldn't even have a horse in this race! I say, if they're so upset, let's move the entire JSC operation back to Cape Kennedy where it belongs!

    April 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trae

      Actually, Mission Control was going to be in Boston, not Cape Canaveral. But then, JFK visited Dallas...

      April 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You are exactly right...LBJ brought home the bacon, and that's why JSC is where it is. It should have been built at KSC.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • The United 49

      Great suggestion Space Coast, too bad your state keep electing idiots as governor, like Jebbie Bush and Rick Scott, you still deserve a shot at getting the Space Center. Texa*s doesn't need anymore government money. its already ruined our country for 8 years!

      April 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CW

    Ignacio, the problem wasn't a design flaw by the engineers in California, it was human error from lack of emphasis on the ice buildup and its effects. The tiles didn't randomly fail, and "fall from the sky" as you claim. Of course, you're probably more intelligent than NASA's scientists and engineers who admitted it, however embarrassing for NASA, right?

    April 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • CH

      Actually it was the foam insulation that fell off the external tank impacting the tiles on the leading edge of the wing that was the problem. The tiles were damaged at that point and allowed heat to enter the wing upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

      April 13, 2011 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. sir_ken_g

    I live a short flight from Houston and have been there on business a number of times – but would never ever spend my own money to go there. I have been to all of the locations selected as a tourist. Nuff said.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      ... and this is the exact reason why Houston does not have a shuttle.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ryan

    Califorina shuttle has been to Houston on multiple occasion. It has landed at AFB Elington Field on the south side of Houston near Mission Control. Houston nickname is Space City hense Houston Astros and Houston Rockets. Mission Control is in Houston. Its a shamed that the 4th largest city in the United States is not getting the Shuttle. Remember the Alamo Remember in 2012

    April 12, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. C Shepard

    The only reason the space center was in Houston to start with was LBJ bringing home the bacon. There is no logical reason for it being there otherwise. At least logic prevailed for Cape Canaveral as a launch site...to take advantage of the linear velocity of the Earth's surface there.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. guest

    New York is the largest city in the country, the capital of the free world, and has sacrificed more for this nation than anywhere else. Why shouldn't it get a shuttle? More people will see it at the Intrepid than anywhere else...

    April 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      How many go to the USS Intrepid compare to Space Center of Houston? Its not about who the largest city in the United States is. If that is the fact and that is your argument than Houston should got it before Orlando since Houston is the 4th largest city in the USA. It's like the USS Kitty Hawk going to Portland Orgeon to a museum instead of Kitty Hawk N.C.

      April 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Center is an extremely well-known and popular museum that hosts nearly 1,000,000 visitors per year. the best estimate I can find for the Johnson Space Center is "tens of thousands." So, wayyyyyy more people are going to see it in NY. The Enterprise has never been in space anyway... you people are just whiny, whining, whiners.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trae

      What the hell? The Intreprid only receives about 800K (less than that) visitors a year, while JSC receives close to one million. Not to mention the JSC has received much more visitors overall than the Intreprid has. What a complete lie. "Tens of thousands only for the JSC". That's just daily my friend. The Intreprid is like the 15th most visited museum in NYC. The attendance is terrible for a metro area of NYC's size.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chuck

    If houston had done its job, and had better quality control then maybe challenger, and columbia would not have blowen up, so then they would have their space shuttle

    April 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • No respect

      That's beyond ignorant. Based on your rational, then why did Kennedy get a shuttle?! After all, they lost Apollo 1 and Challenger.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • twistedpickle

      Chuck, you are definitely the most ignorant person in this whole forum. Go back to school and learn about the real facts instead of blowing hot air that makes you look stupid.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • CH

      Chuck I pray for ignorant people like you.

      April 13, 2011 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Space Inclined

    While it does seem unfair to Houston that they did not get a shuttle, three of the selections were dead on. Discovery at the NASM Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center (Chantilly, VA), Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center, and Endeavor in LA (Granted that LA is earthquake prone). The disposition of Enterprise, currently at the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center, to the Intrepid Museum seems the poor choice of the bunch as Enterprise certainly would have been better suited in Houston or at the USAF Museum in Dayton, OH.

    Long story short is that this was not AS political as everyone is making it out to be. It largely involved who had the money, who's exhibit plans were not hair brained, the amount of visitation they would receive (NYC, LA, and the DC metro area do edge out most other cities in the country for both national and international travelers), along with preventing inter service rivalry (You know if the Air Force got a Shuttle, the Navy would be ticked), and NASA's limited budget (Did anyone really expect that NASA would keep two shuttles when the cost of detoxing them and moving them is so high?). It will be interesting to see how things unfold.

    Lastly, don't forget the two shuttles that have no home and the sacrifice made by those crews for the betterment of humanity.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • CH

      This is NOT AS political as some may think? Really? If you want to go off statistics of which city is has more tourist, then lets put one in Disneyworld at Epcot, or Las Vegas next to Mandaly Bay. Perhaps near Boubon St. in New Orleans? The decision should have been about history. Kennedy was awarded one. I don't see Cape Canaveral as tourist mecca without NASA. Obama put Charlie Bolden in as his choice for Administrator of NASA and to do his bidding. While I will concede that New York is more a tourist destination, it has very little to do with space exploration. Go back and look at the 2008 presidential election and look at the states that won the bid for a shuttle. They all chose Obama. I just wished that this decision would have not been politically motivated, but it sure looks that way.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. SpaceManSpiff

    What most people don't understand is that OsammaBammaDingdongs PUPPET-Bolden was put in place for the IDIOT to shut down everything he can in Houston at JSC and give to his Political Money Sucking Buddies in California and Florida and New York whatever he can to help them line their pockets with as much cash as they can before they get run out of town. What's funny is that when W was president everyone said that high fuel prices were all his fault and here we go three years later gas prices are at the highest ever and I guess all the Obamy crybabies are going to try and say its still W's fault! We need to get rid of all of the crooks!

    April 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Heather

    There are no words! Houston (Mission Control, the home of the space program for 40 years) did not receive a shuttle and now moving the training center currently in Houston to Seattle. Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers should have been a no brainer. I guess that does make sense. Cancel the Space Program, fire 9,000 employees in the city and NOW "Space City HOUSTON" doesn't even get a shuttle. Unbelievable!!!!!!

    April 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
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