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Health & Science

Houston to Feds: Bring a Shuttle Home

City officials held a rally today to convince NASA that Houston should be the final destination for a retired space shuttle. When the program ends this summer, there will be three shuttles to put on display. And while Houston would seem an obvious choice, there are other major cities competing for Discovery, Endeavor and Atlantis. KUHF health science and technology reporter Carrie Feibel has more.


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City officials pulled out all the sentimental and symbolic stops at the rally.

(Sound clip from moon landing: Armstrong radios, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” )

Shuttle Rally
Sports and space mascots entertain the crowd at the “Bring the Shuttle Home” rally in front of City Hall.

Baseball announcer Milo Hamilton was incredulous that the Space City, home of the Astros and the Rockets, could be passed over for New York or Dayton, Ohio.

“No, no city in America is more deserving of a shuttle than our Houston Texas. Neil Armstrong did not say Dayton, the Eagle has landed. Apollo 13 astronauts did not say New York, we have a problem.”

NASA will announce next Tuesday which cities will get the shuttles.

Dayton has the Air Force Museum. New York is, well, New York.

Evelyn Husband Thompson is the widow of Rick Husband, who was killed in the Columbia shuttle accident.

“We would not erect a wonderful tribute to Broadway here in Houston although we have wonderful plays and it’s a great place to go to the theater, New York is the place you go in our country for the best, Houston is the place you go for space… this is the association everyone has, so it belongs here.”

Shuttle Rally
The Raul Yzaguirre Marching Band entertains the crowd during a “Bring the Shuttle Home” rally in front of City Hall.

Mayor Annise Parker and County Judge Ed Emmett both indicate they’re worried that the Obama administration will bypass red-state Texas and award a shuttle to Ohio, a political swing state. This is Mayor Parker:

“And it is frustrating to even have to have that conversation. And I understand politics, and I understand there are a lot of other considerations, but NASA’s ours. These are our friends. These are our neighbors. That shuttle is ours.”

Thompson appeared at the rally with two other women. One also lost her husband in the Columbia accident, and the other lost her husband when the Challenger exploded.

Thompson says she’s not trying to play the pity card, but she simply had to step up and speak out when she learned three weeks ago that Houston was not necessarily guaranteed a shuttle.

“Honestly without being too dramatic, I think it’s a slap in the face if an orbiter doesn’t come here. For the absolute 50 years of service that this city has given and the thousands of people who have worked for NASA, this is a giant contribution. It’s not a small one and I think it would be very horrible if it didn’t come here, actually.”

In its application, Space Center Houston told the federal government that a new shuttle exhibit would boost tourism in Clear Lake and could generate 750 new jobs. The Center is asking Houstonians to send a letter to the federal government by going to

From the KUHF Health, Science, and Technology Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.