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April 12th, 2011

gfish: (Default)
Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 08:16 pm
(This is mostly just another test, I admit.)

So, the remaining Shuttle fleet was divied up today.
  • Discovery goes to the Smithsonian, Udvar Hazy Center at Dulles, where it will replace the Enterprise. No surprise there, and it is only right and proper.

  • Atlantis goes to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Which I guess was inevitable, but I'm not particularly happy about. I was at KSC last year during a launch, and it was a lousy tourist destination. I can't imagine it's going to get much better now. Seems like mostly a political gesture to me, as 7k people there are about to be out of a job when the program ends.

  • Endeavour is going to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. I'm glad the west coast got one, at least, and I understand that California has much greater connections to the Shuttle program than Seattle did. But I really wanted our Museum of Flight to get one.

  • And the Enterprise will be going to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in NYC. This one is a big WTF to me. That's so close to DC, why bother? Wright-Pat should have been next in line, and that would have made a much nicer geographic distribution. Also, a Space Shuttle next to an aircraft carrier? That's just bad optics. Also, geez, did NYC really need one more tourist destination?

Reading comments online, it's interesting the different goals people have in mind for assigning Shuttles. Lots of people wanted them to stay with institutions/areas closely connected with the space program: KSC, Houston, Huntsville. I naturally want to spread them out as national treasures, trying to optimize access and visibility. Having a line of them along the Gulf Coast seems pretty silly to me.

I admit, though, to being particularly resentful of Senator Cornyn's little hissy fit that Houston was passed up. Again, I've been there. And I got some awesome tours of JSC -- because I was there for the GYRE flights. As far as I could see, tourist opportunities if you weren't a NASA guest were visiting the rocket garden and a big NASA-themed science center. And until only a few years ago, their Saturn V was left to rot out in the fetid Houston elements. It's been nicely restored finally and is in a climate-controlled building now, but it's absolutely the least they could do. I've seen nicer barns. If you wanted a Shuttle, you should have been making space tourism a priority long ago. For that matter, you should have been making science a priority. This is (one of many reasons) why I wasn't on the committee: I would have said flat out that states which teach a medieval science curriculum don't deserve a Shuttle.

Phew, okay, it felt good to get that out. Not that anyone on my IM list would tell you I've exactly been holding it in today. :)