Houston’s space shuttle snub may stem from one man's decision

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by Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 25, 2011 at 11:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 25 at 11:20 PM

HOUSTON -- We've known for some time that Houston will not be home to a retired space shuttle and now we know more about why.
     
The shuttle may be history, but the fight over the orbiters is still fresh.

"Everything is worth fighting about because this report puts some sunshine on how this occurred,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Olsen,(R) Sugar Land.

Olsen and many others are still reeling over the loss of the Space Shuttle Orbiters to New York, Los Angeles, Florida and Washington D.C., especially New York.

The NASA Inspector General’s Report into the selection process reveals the initial NASA assessment was to send Atlantis to Houston, but then the criteria used to make the decision changed.

That criterion was changed by one man: NASA Administrator, former astronaut and Houston resident Charles Bolden.

The report says: "The decision to weigh attendance, regional population, and access to international visitors above all other criteria was determinative in deciding which locations ultimately received Orbiters."

"He chose foreign visitors over the men and women of the Johnson Space Center,” Olsen said.

In fact, that change pushed Houston from the top to the bottom. Houston became tied for tenth on a list of 15 museums, outranked even by the Evergreen Air and Space museum in McMinnville Oregon, a town of 35,000 people.

Officials in Houston are trying to focus forward, said Richard Allen, the CEO of Space Center Houston.

"We've still got a huge community down here and we are going to continue to do well and talk about the future of the space program," he said.

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