Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas


July 13, 2011
Press Release

Washington, DC– Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) today joined with Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) to demand accountability and transparency from NASA on placement of the retired shuttle orbiters. This was achieved through report language included in the FY 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which funds the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other related agencies. The Olson/Austria report language directs NASA to keep Congress apprised of the status of plans to both transfer and display the four Space Shuttle orbiters (Atlantis, Enterprise, Discovery and Endeavour) as well as provide contingency plans if the host cities fail to meet specific criteria and agreed upon milestones.

"Taxpayers have a right to know that the cities that are to receive orbiters will fully meet their financial obligations," Rep. Olson said.  "If they don't meet those obligations, Congress will hold them accountable and consider alternate options. This is common sense at a time when the federal government is facing record debt. There are other qualified cities that would gladly absorb the cost of hosting an orbiter, so we are putting the recipients of the orbiters and NASA on notice, Congress is watching."

“The Shuttle Orbiters are a national treasure and they should be treated as such,” Rep. Austria said. “This amendment adds language to the report to ensure that, as NASA hands the orbiters over to private organizations there is accountability, conditions are met and they are given the respect that they deserve.”

Rep. Austria, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, offered language directing NASA to submit quarterly reports to the Committee on the status of disposition of the four Space Shuttle orbiters. The committee accepted the language as part of the underlying bill.


Text of the report language:

Amendment by Rep. Austria

FY12 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill

At the appropriate place in the report, insert the following:

Orbiter disposition.—NASA is directed to submit quarterly reports to the Committee on the status of its disposition of the four Space Shuttle orbiters. Those reports should include 1) expected dates of the physical transfer of each orbiter to its final destination; 2) the total cost to NASA (net of any contribution made by the orbiter recipient) for the storage, preparation and transport of each orbiter; 3) details on how each orbiter will be physically moved and a plan for ensuring the safety of the orbiters in transit; 4) a description of each recipient’s physical and educational plan for displaying its orbiter; 5) notification if any orbiter recipient has failed to meet a financial or physical milestone to which it had committed as a condition of orbiter receipt and, if so, an action plan for how NASA and the recipient will address that missed milestone. 

                If at any time NASA determines that a recipient cannot or will not meet the milestones (financial or physical) to which it committed as a condition of orbiter receipt, NASA should immediately notify the Committee and provide a proposed course of action.


Olson Media Contact: Melissa K. Kelly, 202-225-5951
Austria Media Contact: Stephanie Sonksen, 202-225-4324