WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following the announcement that four retired Space Shuttles would go to sites other than the National Air Force Museum at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement.
"NASA ignored the intent of Congress and the interests of taxpayers. NASA was directed to consider regional diversity when determining shuttle locations. Unfortunately, it looks like regional diversity amounts to which coast you are on, or which exit you use on I-95. Even more insulting to taxpayers is that having paid to build the shuttles, they will now be charged to see them at some sites.
"Ohio is home to the Wright Brothers, to John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, and to the National Air Force Museum. Locating the shuttle in Dayton would provide 60 percent of America's population with access to the shuttle, within a day's drive, and with no admission costs. The fight is not over, which is why I'm calling for a federal investigation into a flawed selection process.
"The Dayton community truly rallied around the Air Force Museum and I am confident that the application met all required selection criteria. I remain committed to bringing jobs to the region and bolstering the Miami Valley's reputation as Ohio's Aerospace Hub."
In the wake of the site announcement, Brown called for a federal investigation by the General Accountability Office (GAO) on the site selection process. The Disposition of Orbiter Vehicles section of the NASA Authorization Act laid out criteria for site selection, including locations that would provide for the display and maintenance of orbiters with the best potential value to the public, including where the location of the orbiters can advance educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and with an historical relationship with either the launch, flight operations, or processing of the Space Shuttle orbiters or the retrieval of NASA manned space vehicles, or significant contributions to human space flight.
Brown passed an amendment that would also make eligible locations that have made significant contributions to human space flight, like Dayton's NMUSAF. Brown's request for a GAO investigation was triggered by the lack of regional diversity among the selected sites, and some of the selected sites' plans to charge admission to view the taxpayer-financed shuttles.
Brown made the case for Dayton's selection with numerous federal leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden; White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley; and White House Director of Legislative Affairs Rob Nabors.
Yesterday, Brown pressed NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing on the process he and his predecessors laid out - including a ten point selection criteria analyzed by a "team" within the organization. In addition to regular communication with General Bolden, Brown has also spoken with NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and visited NASA Glenn Research Center with Bolden at the end of last year.
Brown wrote to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden following the in-person meeting. Brown and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (OH-3) led a letter with other members of the Ohio Congressional delegation to President Obama urging him to continue to lay the groundwork for the assignment of a retired Space Shuttle at the NMUSAF. Brown and Turner also led the Ohio Congressional delegation in writing to NASA Administrator Bolden.