House bill aims to bring retired shuttle to Houston

July 1, 2011 6:05:00 PM PDT
Exactly one week from Friday, NASA will launch Atlantis into orbit -- the final liftoff for the space shuttle program, ending three decades of adventures, unprecedented scientific advancements and space travel where no man has gone before.

And while preparations are underway for the Atlantis launch, the battle continues over what will become of the shuttles after retirement.

Houston was snubbed when the announcement was made four months ago, but the fight is not over.

Houston, there is still some hope. It's House Bill 1536, and it would override NASA's decision as to where the retired shuttles would go and it calls for Houston to get Endeavour. That legislation is still in committee on Capitol Hill, but some local leaders aren't waiting for a vote.

As Atlantis sits on launch pad 39A ready for its final flight next week, the end of the shuttle program is near. But apparently, Houston's fight to be the permanent home of a retired orbiter is not over.

"There are still efforts to get one of the operational orbiters back to Houston. I mean, again, Space City USA," Congressman Pete Olson said.

At a space strategy forum Friday at Rice University, Olson said that, aside from legislation in congress, he is personally taking up the cause.

"We deserve a space shuttle. Every single human being, every single one who's flown on a space shuttle has called Houston, Texas, home for three to five years," he said.

It was 10 weeks ago that we learned Houston would not get one of four shuttles. Instead they went to the Smithsonian, to Kennedy Space Center, to California and to New York.

It was just three weeks before that announcement that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told Eyewitness News he'd prefer to see Houston get one.

"If I were not the NASA administrator then I would say that the places that ought to get an orbiter are Houston and the Cape -- any place that played a vital role in the development and the design of the space shuttle," Bolden said on March 23.

And since that did not happen, Olson plans a face to face meeting with Bolden soon to find out exactly how the decision was made -- and how to change it.

"No one deserves it more than Houston, Texas," Olson said.

Olson was among several lawmakers to send a letter to Bolden questioning the choices. Olson says Bolden has responded to the letter and they do plan to meet, though the congressman admits this fight is an uphill battle.

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