Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Texas Delegation Rallies in Support of Houston as Home to one of the Orbiters

January 15, 2010
Press Release

Washington, DC – Rep. Pete Olson today announced that the entire Texas delegation has signed onto his letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in support of a request for one of the space shuttle orbiters to be located in Houston upon conclusion of the shuttle program. The bipartisan letter, from both U.S. Senators and all 32 Representatives, conveys the significance of the program to the Houston community.

Rep. Pete Olson said, “I’m proud that the men and women who represent the great state of Texas have united in an effort to ensure that one of the space shuttle orbiters finds a permanent home where it belongs - in Houston.  Thousands of Texans have played a critical role in the success of the space shuttle program, particularly the members of the astronaut corps who came to Space City USA to train for their flights.  As a tribute to them and what they have accomplished and as a means to inspire a new generation of explorers, there really is no better place for one to find a permanent home.”


*Text of Letter

January 15, 2010

The Honorable Charles Bolden
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20546-0001

Dear General Bolden,
“Houston, wheel stop.”  A variation of that phrase has concluded every successful landing of orbiters throughout the magnificent history of the shuttle program.  We are writing to you out of the desire to ensure that the achievements of the space shuttle program are properly celebrated and recognized in a way befitting the triumphs of this historic program. 

We, as members of the Texas Congressional delegation, are requesting that one of the three shuttle orbiters find a permanent home in Houston following the completion of the shuttle program.  The reasons for this request are many, but let us highlight just a few.

The space shuttle orbiter will be studied for years.  It is a beautiful thing to view it launch, dock with the space station, or glide in for a landing.  But none of those are possible without the even more impressive efforts, skill and dedication of the people who fly in it and make it fly. 

Having an orbiter in “Space City, USA” is not sought out of the desire to add a relic to a museum for those to just look at a marvel of modern engineering.  It is more profound than that for the people of Houston and the Johnson Space Center family.  To the men and women of mission control, for example, who dedicated their careers to human space flight; it represents a life’s work.

Most importantly, to the men and women of the astronaut corps, the orbiter was the means that enabled them to accomplish childhood dreams, to achieve unparalleled feats of daring and scientific achievement.  And for their families, the orbiter was the home away from home that kept their loved ones safe while they explored the heavens.

For many, viewing a shuttle orbiter will remind them of the brave crews of Columbia and Challenger.  To be in Houston and remember those men and women would be a fitting memorial, for although our nation lost 14 heroes, the people of Houston lost coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family members in those tragedies.

As you know personally, men and women don’t just come to Houston to train for a flight.  They bring their families and become part of the fabric of the community.  The impact that the shuttle program has had is not limited to the campus of the Johnson Space Center, or to Houston or to Texas, of course.  The global accomplishments will be celebrated for years.  But to the people of Houston, and of Texas, who have the image of the orbiter on their license plate, the shuttle program is a source of particular pride.

The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, partnering with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, has put together a proposal to house a shuttle orbiter at Space Center Houston.  

The partnership to bring an orbiter to Houston has brought together industry partners, educational institutions, elected officials, civic leaders, and the general public to support this effort.  Hundreds of thousands of people every year come to Space Center Houston, not only to see, but to learn. 

The educational component to this effort is critical.  The desire to house an orbiter is based out of the endless possibilities that avail themselves to educate and inspire a new generation of explorers willing to fly in, design, and manage future flights of the next generation of vehicles.  This effort is not just about where we have been and what we have accomplished, but where we are going and what possibilities still exist.