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Why did NASA pick Houston?

A mixture of resources and political power helped secure Houston's spot in history.

HOUSTON — Why is Houston space city? By the time President John F. Kennedy gave his historic speech at Rice University, NASA had already announced that Houston would be home to the manned spacecraft center.

Originally it had been located at Langley, Virginia.

However, when Kennedy committed to lunar exploration NASA realized they needed a bigger space. In September of 1961, the space agency said an area near Houston had been picked after multiple sites had been evaluated.

RELATED: Watch: President John F. Kennedy's famous speech on Rice University's campus

So how did we pass the test?

NASA had a list of things it wanted from the location. They included access to barge transportation, a mild climate, a good airport, and a thousand acres of land that wasn’t too pricey. They also needed a nearby university good enough to supply all the bright minds needed to run the center. Houston had all that including Rice University, still considered one of the best schools in the country.

Houston also had something else, a powerful politician, Congressman Albert Thomas. He was the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversaw NASA’s budget. He also represented the Houston area.

According to reports, Thomas did a little quid pro quo with Kennedy to land the manned spacecraft center in his district. And Houston history was never the same again.

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