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Friday, September 29, 2023


Space city gets snubbed out of orbiters

Last Tuesday, NASA unveiled its plans for the retirement of the space shuttles, the technological wonders that served as the engines of our space program for the last few decades. The shuttle Discovery will go to the Smithsonian outside Washington, the Endeavor will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, and Atlantis will stay at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. New York will get the Enterprise, which was a prototype for the shuttle design built in the 1970s.

Absent from that list is Houston — a strange exclusion considering it is often referred to as Space City. We are the home to the Johnson Space Center and our basketball and baseball teams bear namesakes referring to the space program. We are also the home of many of the shuttle crew members and their families, the astronaut training facility and Mission Control. And we lost out to Los Angeles and New York?

New York has done nothing of note for the space program. LA has a few reasons, at least — the shuttles were assembled in Palmsdale, located near LA, and the shuttles did occasionally land at Edwards Air Force Base. But none of these things surpass the contributions that Houston has made to the space program.

Though we did get light deck commander seats, pilot seats and the shuttle simulators, the slight on Texas is inexcusable.

As a result, a bipartisan bill is being presented in Congress. Surprisingly, it was a Utah Congressman who introduced the bill, which would make Texas, Florida, Virginia, and California home for the Endeavor, Atlantis, Discovery and Enterprise respectively.

Many Texans are irate about the decision and believe that politics played a role in the selection process. The most prevalent fact is that not a single state that voted republican in 2008 got a shuttle.

Some Texans are even connecting Obama and his re-election campaign for the shuttle decision, among other things. After the BP spill and the issued moratorium on oil drilling, a federal judge in Louisiana found the moratorium to be unconstitutional. Obama ignored this ruling and continued to enforce the ban. This ban also affected other Southern states including Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, all of whom voted republican in 2008.

As petty as this seems for a president to be playing favorites like this, it seems a bit more than likely to be the case. Texas has been one of the most economically successful states during this recession, but it seems we are being punished for it. Hopefully, this incredibly illogical decision can work out in favor of Space City.

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