“The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the ideal facility to preserve the legacy of NASA’s Space Shuttle program,” Congressman Turner said. “The U.S. Air Force played a significant role in developing the nation’s space program. Retiring a space shuttle orbiter at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will serve as an educational attraction for students and residents interested in learning more about the history of America’s space program. In addition, the attraction will help encourage local tourism and economic growth. I appreciate the support of the entire Ohio Congressional Delegation in this effort.”
Congressman Turner coordinated the Ohio Congressional Delegation correspondence to NASA. The letter was mailed and faxed to NASA’s Acting Administrator Christopher J. Scolese.
*** A text of the Ohio Congressional Delegation letter follows. ***
April 3, 2009
Mr. Christopher J. Scolese
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E Street, S.W.
Washington D.C. 20546-0002
Dear Mr. Scolese:
America’s Space Shuttle program is nearing the completion of its scheduled service to our nation’s space program. At that time, it will be important to recognize and preserve the great successes, achievements, and sacrifices of the orbiter program on behalf of the American people. The disposition of the orbiter fleet, along with the residual space shuttle artifacts, is a key ingredient in interpreting the remarkable story of both NASA and the Air Force’s roles in space exploration and the practical applications of space-based systems.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has identified the Air Force’s space mission as its most important exhibit priority. The Air Force was deeply involved in determining the orbiters’ design and capabilities, and many shuttle astronauts have been Air Force members. At least ten shuttle flights have been devoted exclusively to Department of Defense projects, and several Air Force experiments have flown on other flights. The Air Force’s role in shuttle development and missions demonstrates the close connection between NASA and the Air Force. Placing a space shuttle orbiter on display at the National Museum would provide the ideal backdrop to this story.
To that end, we fully support the request by the Air Force for a retired operational orbiter, such as “Atlantis,” for long term preservation and public display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
With 1.3 million visitors annually, and located within a 600-mile radius of more than 60 percent of the U.S. population, the NMUSAF is an appropriate and accessible venue to exhibit an important American treasure such as the space shuttle orbiter. As one of the few institutions able to display and preserve a shuttle orbiter indoors for year-round visitor comfort, the NMUSAF offers a professional aerospace vehicle restoration staff of Air Force civilian technicians, specialized equipment, and resources to accomplish the necessary preparations on the orbiter in order to place it on public display and ensure its preservation.
The orbiter would be housed in a proposed Space Shuttle Gallery, which will also house Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules, and other space artifacts currently in the NMUSAF collection. Expanded exhibits will also include a range of satellites and booster systems already in the national historic collection in order to present the full array of space-related activities illustrating the NASA-Air Force partnership.
Charged with the stewardship of the Air Force’s national historic collection, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is the ideal destination for one of the remaining space shuttle orbiters at the conclusion of the active flight program. To be included in the world’s oldest and largest collection of military aviation artifacts will assure the preservation of one of America’s most priceless historical artifacts and tell the story of its remarkable achievements in this nation’s rich history.
Michael R. Turner George V. Voinovich
John A. Boehner Sherrod Brown
Steve Driehaus Charlie Wilson
Marcia Fudge Steven C. LaTourette
Tim Ryan Jean Schmidt
Steve Austria Marcy Kaptur
Patrick J. Tiberi Mary Jo Kilroy
Zack Space Jim Jordan
Robert E. Latta Dennis J. Kucinich
Betty Sutton John Boccieri