Houstonians still questioning NASA's decision


We wanted to compare the proposals which earned entities a space shuttle to see what those entities said to help persuade NASA to give them one. But NASA will not release those proposals.

A spokesman claims the information is proprietary and says applicants were promised confidentiality. Some say that's proof again that this process of selection wasn't as transparent as the space agency would lead us to believe.

Houstonians on Wednesday still struggled to make sense of the snub from NASA.

"It's really a shame .. And I really regret that," said Mark Bruse.

"To me, this was a political decision. There's no way you could've used logic and not include Houston," said Lee Perry.

Former Congressman Chris Bell also wonders what happened -- if someone dropped the ball; if Houston did enough, early enough to get a shuttle. They are questions many sources are asking us to investigate.

"I don't think we had really put ourselves in a position to win the shuttle," said Bell.

He admits no inside knowledge other than his personal experience of how politics works. He says early assumption that so many others would get a shuttle was unnerving.

"By the time Houston was weighing in, it seemed like it could very well be too little, too late," Bell said.

A 23-page proposal was put together in the hope of brining an orbiter to Space Center Houston. It details the arguments for the shuttle: the 750,000 people annually that would see it inside a 53,000-square foot addition at the facility. The application was delivered to NASA in March 2009. It was backed by a varied coalition of business and area elected leaders. They insist they pushed it for more than two years.

"We have done everything we can to get a retired shuttle here. We never took for granted that we would get one," said Bob Mitchell with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

Mitchell is calling now for NASA to explain in detail its decision making process, and to release, as we asked, the proposals from those entities chosen to get a shuttle. NASA is not releasing them.

"Side by side. Let NASA tell us side by side. Lay them out and show us where we were deficient," Mitchell said.

That's something NASA says it's not willing to do. All the more reason, elected officials say, to call for a congressional investigation how recipients of a shuttle were chosen.

Elected leaders here in Texas and in Ohio are calling for an investigation into the selection process. Ohio had hoped to get a shuttle, too.

If you would like to share your thoughts on the retiring shuttle fleet with NASA, you can contact them at:
    Public Communications Office
    NASA Headquarters
    Suite 5K39
    Washington, DC 20546-0001
    202-358-0001 (Office)
    202-358-4338 (Fax)
    Email: public-inquiries@hq.nasa.gov

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