Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A "Space Shuttle" comes to Houston

When the space program ended last year the three remaining shuttles were bid on by cities across the country. Everyone wanting a piece of history. Many assumed that it was an easy choice: one to Kennedy in Florida, one to the Smithsonian in D.C. and the final one to Houston, the home of the NASA Johnson Space Center; the home of maned space flight. After all JSC is where the Astronauts are selected and trained. JSC is home to Mission Control. How could Houston NOT get a Shuttle.

Skip ahead to last friday, when I found myself sitting at the NASA dock on Clear Lake watching a large barge carry not a Space Shuttle, but a space shuttle mockup down the lake and into the dock on its way to Space Center Houston. The ceremony was aptly named 'Shuttlebration.' It was a bitter sweet moment. Not only because of what it symbolized, the end of the Space Shuttle and the end of the US ability to put humans in space. But also because it was a slap in the face to everyone who worked so tirelessly at JSC on the program. Sorry, you aren't getting a shuttle, but here is this hand me down mockup that we had lying around Kennedy.

Now in full honesty, half of me understands why Houston didn't get a Shuttle. They wanted to put them in cities that would get the most traffic. People don't exactly sit down planning their yearly vacations saying "lets go to Houston this year." Sure Smithsonian, sure Kennedy, maybe LA. But to me the biggest dig was giving the true space shuttle mockup, Enterprise, to New York. I know, many more people travel to New York than they do Houston, but in my opinion, which means nothing except to those of you reading this blog who now have to listen to it, if they weren't going to give a real shuttle to JSC, the least they could have done was given the official mockup to us and sent this Kennedy mockup up to New York. I think that would have been a fair compromise. Hell, maybe the city could have even used it to help increase tourism to the area, but probably not. The only bright side to the mockup that was brought to us from Kennedy is that maybe, and hopefully, they will allow people to crawl around the inside and to get a glimpse into what it meant to be an Astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle. That will remain to be seen.

For now, enjoy these few pictures that I snapped off with my iPhone at the docking celebration.

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