States Competing for Retired Space Shuttles

by Dan Billow


NASA is set to retire the space shuttle in 2010.

Now, the fight is on between several groups to see who gets to keep the mothballed orbiters.

The home of the space shuttle.

Clearly that's right here, central Florida's space coast. But could it be when the last shuttle launches in September 2010, we'll never see another?

Yes. That could be.

The battle is on, all over the country, interests backed by powerful politicians are making a grab for the three shuttles: Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour.

The Smithsonian Institution seems a sure destination for one of them. The U.S. Air Force Museum in Ohio is making a strong bid. The Johnson Space Center in Texas, the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the Kansas Cosmosphere, even the little town of Palmdale, California, where the orbiters were built.

NASA chief Mike Griffin has called them all vultures.

Dan Le Blanc of the KSC Visitor Complex says "there's more possible places than there are shuttles." What about Florida, surely a rightful owner of at least one shuttle? It would be great to have one here."

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, home of a real Saturn V rocket, and the only place with a realistic shuttle launch simulator, wants a shuttle. And would put former shuttle workers on the job maintaining the spaceship for all time.

But who makes the decision? Probably some combination of the NASA administration, the Smithsonian, and whichever politician ends up winning what could be a congressional food fight.

A fight over the shuttle's new home, which may not be its old home.