On April 12th, NASA awarded three retired space shuttles to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the California Science Center in Los Angeles, and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. The latter institution already had a prototype shuttle, the Enterprise, on display which was then promised to New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, located at pier 86 on the west side of Manhattan.
Sixteen cities were gunning for the shuttles– not just because things that have been in space are freakin’ COOL but because the tourism generated by the aforementioned coolness could have a positive impact on the local economy. As I’ve said before, the awards announcement was not dissimilar from an episode of The Bachelor except instead of roses, NASA handed unmanned orbital rockets to its primping would-be wooers.
And just like The Bachelor, the shuttle “rose ceremony” was followed by crying and carping from the rejects. Texas and Ohio, those all-American down-home beauties have been particularly vociferous in their objections. New York, they say, is a back-stabbing skank! She doesn’t deserve
him the Enterprise!
Rumors that The Intrepid is planning to build a new museum for the shuttle prototype rather than enclose it on pier 86 as initially proposed, have only fanned the flames of mid-western dissent. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown asked NASA to investigate its method for deciding between museums, prompting the agency’s Inspector General to issue a special report.
The report detailed the elaborate point system used to pick the winners, which was based on performance in categories like “international access,” “attendance,” and “commitment to funding.” It acknowledged that some errors were made in scoring, which would have led to Dayton having a higher score than it received. In the report’s conclusion, the Inspector General advised the agency to carefully review the winners’ plans for displaying the shuttle to make sure they were financially feasible.
And an Ohio businessman, John Cavanaugh, started an online petition asking NASA to re-think its decision to give the Enterprise to New York. It now has nearly 2700 signatures.
Will NASA change its mind and have a wild card return of eliminated bachelorette-cities!? It isn’t likely: a) because governmental agencies have no equivalent to the desperate machinations of second-rate reality shows during rating sweeps and b) more people (aka tourists) will get to see the shuttle in a hub like New York City than in Dayton, Ohio or Houston, Texas.
Sorry girl-next-door museums, you just don’t have the urban glamour of NYC.