Could Houston Get A Second Shot At A Retired Shuttle?

(news release)





WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a longtime advocate for NASA and former member of the House Science Committee, and Congressman Al Green, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced legislation that would temporarily loan the Space Shuttle Discovery to the Space Center Houston for 15 years.  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee issued the following statement regarding her legislation:

“Both Houstonians and millions of Americans across the country were devastated this past week by the news that Space Center Houston was not selected to be a permanent home to one of the space shuttle orbiters.  This legislation is in line with the official designation that allows the federal government to provide assistance to NASA centers that were drastically impacted by the diminished NASA mission.  This legislation would temporarily set aside the decision to dispose of the Discovery shuttle and instruct Gen. Bolden and NASA to temporarily “loan” the Discovery shuttle to the appropriate location in Houston, Texas for a period of 15 years.  This legislation fits squarely under that interpretation.”

“The Smithsonian is America’s museum.  Over the years of their history, they have readily loaned major U.S. artifacts to the American people.  What better community to host an orbiter than Houston, Texas.  This is common sense legislation that no one should oppose. The next step is to set a meeting with General Bolden, representatives of the White House, and the leadership of the Smithsonian Museum to secure their agreement for this very sensible approach that will pay tribute to the families whose loved ones lost their lives in service to their Nation.  We expect to have the support and advocacy of all of our colleagues.  Several Members of Congress who do not live in Texas were shocked by the loss of the orbiter to Houston.  Therefore, I am delighted to introduce this bi-partisan legislation that creates the right kind of solution.  America is a great country.  It is a fair country, and this is a solution that is both great and fair.”

Congressman Al Green issued the following statement on the legislation: 

“The goal of this bill is to reverse an unjust decision which would have an adverse economic impact on the city of Houston.  The Johnson Space Center (JSC) and its committed workforce have been a key component of the space shuttle program since it started in the 1980’s. Additionally, the successful monitoring of more than 100 missions from JSC and the fact that Houston, as well as its surrounding areas, have been the training grounds and home for our admired and beloved astronaut corps, are proof that we have provided America with an invaluable service that has made our country the world leader in space exploration.  These facts should serve as enough merit for JSC to receive ‘Discovery’ but we must also keep in mind that, if one of the space shuttle orbiters were sent to JSC, NASA would actually be giving the American people a better set of options to view and learn about the shuttle fleet from a geographic standpoint. “

“Considering ‘Enterprise’ will be on display at the California Science Center; ‘Atlantis’ will be showcased at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, and ‘Discovery’ and ‘Endeavour’ are scheduled to be sent to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington (DC) and to New York’s Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, respectively, the west and the east coast regions get a shuttle, whereas the northeast region gets two. I think it would be much more beneficial for the American people that the Midwest region would receive one of these legendary space vehicles. Based on this rationale, JSC is the most logical and deserving destination.”

Additionally, any costs associated with the relocation of the shuttle will come from the appropriations allocated to NASA for the purposes of transitioning the shuttles.  This week, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Al Green also wrote a letter to Administrator Bolden expressing their disappointment with his decision, and asking him to consider loaning the orbiter to Space Center Houston.

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