Intrepid changes plans for Shuttle Enterprise location

September 29, 2011 4:33:53 PM PDT
A change of plans in New York adds insult to injury for Houstonians finally coming to grips with NASA's shuttle snub.

In New York and Washington, moving a shuttle across a highway may just be part of the process. But here it's seen - by some - as going back on your word. It's un-Texan; and Texans hope it might mean something good for us.

NASA says the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum -- built around the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid that picked up early astronauts -- is connected to manned space flight and deserves to display the test shuttle Enterprise.

The Intrepid put together an impressive bid to get it, backed on the Senate floor by a hometown New York politician.

"The exhibit will be sure to attract heavy foot traffic too because the Intrepid will house the Shuttle in a glass enclosure on Pier 86 close to Times Square," New York Sen. Charles Schumer said.

Sounds great, and that building looks great on the Intrepid's website too. But as first reported in Thursday's New York Times, it's not true anymore.

"How could you honestly not know that you couldn't do it. I mean, in my mind, the selling point was you're going to put it at the Intrepid Museum, that was your selling point," said Bob Mitchell with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

It sounds like the Intrepid pulled a bit of a bait-and-switch. The Intrepid told NASA the shuttle would go at the end of that pier, where the Concorde is now. Instead, the Intrepid wants to dump the Enterprise across an eight-lane highway in a yet-to-be constructed museum building in that parking lot.

It's across the street from one strip club and right next to another.

"That's terrible. We're trying to attract our youth to these museums to see the space shuttles. As a parent, I don't want to drive past two strip clubs as I'm trying to see a space shuttle," Sugar Land Rep. Pete Olson said.

NASA doesn't seem to mind. Even when we pointed out the new location's added attraction, they stood by a statement saying, "NASA does not foresee any issues that would prevent transferring the Enterprise to Intrepid as scheduled in 2012."

And all the Intrepid would say is, "We look forward to having Enterprise at the Intrepid for all New Yorkers and all our visitors to enjoy and continue to be in the planning stages."

Shuttle backers in Houston still bruised by NASA's shuttle snub say this should be enough to reopen the decision process.

"If they're not ready to take it, I can assure you Space Center Houston is. Space City USA will bring that shuttle home," Rep. Olson said.

The Intrepid Museum wouldn't tell us why they're doing this or when they told NASA about it. Aside from the appearance, there's another big problem with New York's new plan -- the museum doesn't own the parking lot and apparently hasn't started raising the money to buy it yet.

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