States Clamour for Remaining two Shuttles after Atlantis and Endeavour Retire

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There are only three shuttles remaining in NASA's fleet; Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. When all the Shuttles have been retired we know that Discovery will to go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. That leaves Atlantis and Endeavour looking for homes. With just two orbiters available, it should come as no surprise that the contest to see who gets a space shuttle for their state has become spirited.

Many point to Florida, Texas and California as being the most logical places for a space shuttle to go to (Texas is where shuttle flights are controlled, Florida is where they launch and California is where the shuttles were built and occasionally land). However, states such as New York have put in bids to acquire one of the orbiters after they retire.

With states with no obvious ties to the shuttle program throwing their hats in the ring the states that once seemed assured to be able to display one of these orbiters - are now being forced to step up their efforts to get one. Like most of NASA's space centers, Johnson Space Center has a visitor center to allow tourists to view the history that has taken place there.

Johnson Space Center is no exception with Space Center Houston playing host to approximately 750,000 guests annually. However, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida sees 1.5 million guests annually and the Intrepid Museum in New York (where it has been proposed a shuttle would be displayed) has approximately 1 million guests go through its doors annually. If it comes down to numbers then there is still the chance that Johnson Space Center might not get one of the remaining shuttles.

Space Center Houston is operated by the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Inc. The company provides tours of both the space shuttle and International Space Station mission control as well as other important spots on the grounds of Johnson Space Center. Space Center Houston is home to a great many pieces of historic space hardware. The center has on display flown Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules, the Skylab trainer, astronaut flight suits and other articles from the space program's history.

"Bringing a shuttle home to Houston would allow us to enhance our mission of education and advocacy for the space program," said Richard Allen, president and chief executive officer of Space Center Houston. "We are uniquely qualified and ready to expand our visitor experience for the general public and through our educational programs with a new attraction focused solely on the space shuttle hardware and program history."

To help lock in Space Center Houston as the location for one of the shuttles to end up, the center has partnered with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, an economic group that is working to provide for all the requirements that any location must have to be the home of a space shuttle. Where Atlantis and Endeavour will wind up going will inevitably be decided by NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., sometime this summer. There are about 20 different museums and other venues that are trying to get one of the shuttles.


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