Once upon a time, in the spring of 2011, the United States of America came to a point of creative, economic, and political bankruptcy in its will to carry out the exploration of outer space with all the scientific fervor it deserves. As a sad result, President Barak Obama recommended that we simply shut down further active NASA programs of space discovery and leave that task to the resources and designs of private interest groups.
As a result, plans quickly flew into motion for dismantling the active flight physical infrastructure of NASA, sort of in the way we did back in the 1920s and 1930s when we gave up as a nation on electric rail travel as a preferred medium of mass transit in favor of busses and cars that ran on the availability of cheap gasoline. There would be no going back to direct space flights either once we shredded ourselves of the materials and people who made it possible. Like the rail tracks that we dug up fast a long time ago, we had to burn our newest bridges behind us too on publicly supported space flight.
As a major celebrity event in dismantling NASA, it was announced that four American cities would be awarded one of the four historic space shuttles for public display in their communities. It was first easily assumed that Houston and Cape Canaveral would be the two no-brainer sites for two of these shuttles. After all, these were the sites of NASA’s Mission Control and Mission Launching facilities.
Not so fast, presumptuous villagers of the hinterlands! – The Obama Administration wanted NASA to take community bids on where they each should go. As twenty cities quickly joined in the hunt for landing a shuttle, it all too suddenly became a decision that would now be decided upon political capital – and not based upon historic merit.
“Houston, we have a problem! We deserve one of those shuttles on historic merit, but this is now a political thing – and it’s being run under the waving hand of the Obama Administration – and Texas didn’t vote for Obama in 2008!”
Sure enough. Here comes the NASA-hired pre-Easter Bunny – and he’s packing a basket with five city eggs, but only four can possibly contain shuttle awards. What to do? What to do? What to do? Our Texas senators and representatives started speech-making, but they revved up way too late, said too little, and had no clout. “Red-State-Itis” has a real bad effect upon the hearing of Blue State Leadership Ears.
“Crack open those first four eggs, Cape Canaveral, Suburban Washington, DC in Virginia, Los Angeles, and New York City. “said the Bunny. “Houston, don’t go anywhere. Just sit back a while. – Seattle, Dayton, Chicago, – all the rest of you – just hobble on home now and boil your own eggs. There’s nothing else here for any of you today. Better luck next time.”
The rabbit spoke deliberately. As the first four of five eggs were cracked open, here’s what we discovered: (1) the space shuttle Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida; (2) the Endeavour’s home will be the California Science Center in Los Angeles; (3) the Discovery, at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia; and (4) the test shuttle, Enterprise, will reside at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.
And what did all of these four shuttle-award states of Florida, California, Virginia, and New York have in common with the space program? They were all states who supported Barak Obama for President in 2008.
Senator Charles Schumer of New York, now quickly forgetting about all the support the City of Houston gave his Big Apple after the tragedy of 911 ten years ago, jumped at the opportunity to function as an a(rrogant) hole in the usually gracious veneer of Empire State empathy for the pain of others.
Houston was shocked and hurting from the NASA pre-Easter egg drop that robbed the birthplace and home of the space program and its people of the honor and respect it deserves as the half century center of everything this nation has done in space. Stunned by the NASA political rebuff, we quickly, but only momentarily displaced the reason why we had been so successful as the home of NASA’s great space endeavour.
That’s when the Easter Bunny said, “Go ahead, Houston, open your own egg and hold tight to what you find there. It’s what makes you great with anything you do – and it’s what your people are made of. God gave it to you, not the government, and no one can ever take it away from you. It’s what allowed you to steer the space program to greatness and, you gotta believe me here, no boat-floating space museum in the East River in New York City will ever take that base of your character away from you!”
Our day will come. In fact, it’s already here. It’s just a matter of time now until the rest of the world completely catches on to who we are, all we have done, and what we shall still take action to do next. And Houston’s role in anything we’ve ever accomplished in space, as with medicine, shall never be forgotten. It’s just up to Houstonians now to make sure that we honor our history with NASA as it should be honored.
As for the Easter Bunny’s faith in Houston, we gotta believe in ourselves too. As for Washington, DC, we “don’t gotta” believe. There’s another election coming up in 2012 – and any politician, of elected or appointed position, of either major party or otherwise, who deprived Houston of a shuttle for political reasons needs to feel, then and there, the total weight of all the political retribution we can also bring to bear upon him or her too with all our legal right and economic might.
Happy Easter weekend, Houston! And Happy Easter to all our friends in other places too!