Rep. Ted Poe (TX-02) and Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) were joined by other members of the Texas Delegation in sending a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden requesting an explanation for why he is sending a retired shuttle orbiter to New York City instead of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
On Tuesday, NASA announced that it will send retired shuttle orbiters to New York, California, Florida and Virginia. Houston, the center of space exploration, was denied a shuttle. This letter requests answers to pointed questions to figure out the logic behind the decision.
"The first word spoken on the moon landing was "Houston', not New York City," said Rep. Poe. "NASA and the Johnson Space center have been the home base for space exploration for decades. It defies logic for a shuttle to go to New York City, a place with no connection to NASA. It's like putting the Statue of Liberty in Omaha. This was a politically driven decision, not one based on facts and history. This is disrespectful to Houston, the state of Texas and the Johnson Space Center family. Texas needs an explanation from the Administration."
"No city in the world deserves a shuttle more than Houston, certainly not New York. As much as the Administration may deny it, the smell of politics permeates this decision," Rep. Olson said. "So many of my House colleagues from across the country have reiterated that point since the announcement. NASA never established defined criteria, likely because they knew Houston would meet every criteria with flying colors. Houston deserves answers to how this decision was made. Administrator Bolden has some explaining to do."
Olson and Poe were joined by other members of the Texas delegation including: Rep. Ralph Hall, Rep. Michael Burgess, Rep. Joe Barton, Rep. Pete Sessions, Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Rep. Sam Johnson, Rep. John Carter, Rep. John Culberson, Rep. Kevin Brady, Rep. Gene Green, Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Michael McCaul, Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Louie Gohmert and Rep. Blake Farenthold.
FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER
Dear Administrator Charles Bolden,
Like many other Texans, we were shocked by your announcement yesterday that the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, the center for human spaceflight research and flight control for NASA, was not chosen to be the permanent home to one of the retired Space Shuttle Orbiters. As you know, the Johnson Space Center's Mission Control Center has been the operational center of every US human space mission since June 1965. The men and women who work at mission control have supported every single shuttle mission since the very first mission in 1981. We can find no logical explanation for this decision, and request that you explain the rationale behind the decision to Congress, the people of Houston, and the American taxpayer.
1. What factors did you use in making your decision?
2. For what specific reasons was the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City chosen?
3. 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?
4. Exactly how much does NASA anticipate spending to move the Enterprise from its current location in Virginia to the Intrepid Museum? Specifically, what funds will NASA use to pay for this move?
5. How does NASA physically plan to move the Enterprise to pier 86 in New York City?
6. Considering that the Intrepid Museum is located only 224 miles from the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, where the Shuttle Discovery will be displayed, doesn't it make geographic sense to have the Enterprise more centrally located in the country? As it stands now, there are three locations on the east coast. Wouldn't a more central location ensure that the highest number of Americans would be able to visit?
It is our hope that politics did not play a role in this historic decision. 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.