HOUSTON Congressional leaders on Wednesday sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, demanding to know why New York City was chosen over Houston as the home of a retired space shuttle. Members of the Texas delegation in Washington, D.C., said they may demand additional congressional inquiries and hearings, depending on the answer they get.

Well, it s blatantly political, Congressman Ted Poe said in prepared remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives. The first word on the moon was Houston, not New York City!

Texas is a red state, that s very obvious, he added in an interview with KHOU 11 News. And I think Texas is being punished for being a red state.

The business of the Johnson Space Center, according to a NASA study in 2009, funded $5.9 billion in contracts, grants, payroll and procurements and generated nearly $3 billion in business volume just in the state of Texas.

The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership predicts the end of the shuttle program, and the immediate loss of jobs expected, could reduce the flow into the regional economy by up to $1 billion.

But they are equally concerned about the larger message they fear the shuttle decision is sending to JSC.

This particular administration has done everything they can to dismantle human space flight, said Bob Mitchell, CEO of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. It s a vendetta against the Johnson Space Center. You saw that yesterday again by not putting a shuttle here. It s kind of a sad situation when you play politics with people s lives and that s what NASA headquarters is doing playing politics with people s lives.

NASA awarded shuttles to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Smithsonian in suburban Washington, D.C., and the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The Enterprise, a prototype shuttle used for initial flight tests but not to fly in space, was awarded to New York City s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan.

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