To quote the NASA release, “At a ceremony held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the facilities where four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program.”
Discovery – OV-103 – National Air and Space Museum
Atlantis – OV-104 – KSC Visitor Complex
Endeavour – OV-105 – California Science Center – Los Angeles, CA
Enterprise – OV-101 – Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum – NY, NY
All in all, I think these are good selections, placing the oribiters where the most people will see them. Unfortunately, the squabbling and back biting has begun. Members of Congress are calling for investigations of the selection process. Residents of the cities who bid, but didn’t get an orbiter are saying how they are more deserving than the selected cities. A columnist from New York is saying that NY deserves an orbiter that’s been to space because New York is New York.
I don’t envy Gen. Bolden his decision and I trust that he made the right one, because he had all the information and I have none. However, without criticizing the decision, I would suggest that putting an orbiter in the center of the country would have been a good thing. I don’t know whether Houston deserved one out right because it is the home of JSC, but I will say that placing an orbiter off a coast would have been a good gesture. In terms of thoughts on why Houston didn’t get an orbiter, here are the thoughts of former Flight Director and Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale. To read some well thought out reasons on why Houston should have gotten an orbiter see Txflygirl’s blog.
Certainly, placing Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum is appropriate. The Smithsonian is the official home of our nation’s history, and having an orbiter there will give the respect that I think it deserves. Atlantis staying at KSC is also appropriate, as all Space Shuttle launches, indeed all manned launches from the United States have occurred there. As for Los Angeles, I think it’s fitting that an orbiter is going to near where they were built. New York isn’t an obvious choice to me, but it makes sense if the main criterion being used is number of probable visitors.
If I had to hazard a guess, I think that’s the criterion General Bolden used to select the final location for the orbiters. It’s a criterion that I can certainly understand and respect. I think it’s only appropriate that the orbiters, which have inspired a millions, be placed where the largest number of people will see them.