HOUSTON -- An online, grassroots campaign to make Houston the final home of one of the three space shuttles has upped the ante among the cities vying to become their permanent homes.
The campaign, Bring The Shuttle Home, has sent more than 46,000 letters of support to the president.
Why would it not come to Houston? asked Richard Allen, chief executive officer and president of Space Center Houston. We're the home of Mission Control. We're the home of astronaut training.
Twenty museums across the country have lobbied to become the permanent home of the iconic space shuttle, which NASA is scheduled to retire this year, 30 years after its maiden voyage.
Discovery, which recently completed its 39th and final scheduled mission, has been promised to the Smithsonian Institute near Washington, DC.
A lot of people have invested their career and their hearts in making sure we've had this spectacular national capability that we've been able to use over the last decades, astronaut Tim Kopra told 11 News.
A space shuttle in Houston would bring pride and prestige to the region, but some worried politics would dictate whether one comes to Houston.
The president needs to carry California, Florida and Ohio to win re-election in 2012 -- all states with a NASA footprint -- that have waged tough campaign for a space shuttle.
Having Atlantis or Endeavour in Houston would pump an estimated $45 million into the region's economy every year.
It would also create an estimated 700 jobs.
The shuttle should be here in Houston, said Fred Griffin, chair of the Bring The Shuttle Home campaign. I believe that it is a significant part of Houston's history.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is expected to announce the space agency's decision on or around April 12.