Tulsa to NASA: Come in, please
BY DEON J. HAMPTON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
7/13/10 at 4:47 AM
The Tulsa Air and Space Museum is continuing its fundraising efforts in hopes of landing a retiring space shuttle.
The museum has raised nearly $100,000 since NASA announced in December 2008 that three NASA shuttles were headed for retirement.
Tulsa is one of 21 cities competing for the shuttles. One, the Discovery, has been granted to the Smithsonian Institution, already home to the Enterprise shuttle.
If the Smithsonian is given a second shuttle, the Enterprise possibly would move to another city, said Jim Bridenstine, executive director of Tulsa Air and Space Museum.
The Enterprise came to Tulsa in 1979 as a reward for the effect the city has had on space shuttles, such as building bay doors on all of the space shuttles, Bridenstine said.
The first 747 shuttle carrier aircraft was also modified at the American Airlines Maintenance Base in Tulsa.
While no timetable has been set, a NASA administrator will decide which cities will be granted the shuttles, Bridenstine said.
"I've heard the decision could be soon because they were going to give the museums time to fundraise," he said. "But I've also heard a decision won't be made until the last of the three shuttles retires."
The last shuttle is scheduled to retire Feb. 26, 2011.
Bridenstine said acquiring the shuttle would provide a tremendous educational opportunity and inspire children across the region to learn math and science.
Economically, it also would be a huge benefit that would attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Tulsa, Bridenstine said.
Museum officials don't know their chances.
"The only info they've told us was that we're competitive," Bridenstine said. "They're telling that to everyone."
The Tulsa Air and Space Museum sent NASA a request and proposal for the shuttle shortly after the announcement that the shuttles would retire.
The proposal included letters from state officials, including Gov. Brad Henry, and information about the space museum.
Bridenstine said he also received support from members of Congress, who sent NASA letters supporting Tulsa.
For more information visit tulsaworld.com/landtheshuttle.
Deon J. Hampton 581-8413
The space shuttle Atlantis touches down at Kennedy Space Center on May 26 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Tulsa Air and Space Museum is hoping to land a space shuttle for display here. CHRIS O’MEARA / Associated Press file