As you might have read earlier, it’s mikemcguff.com from New York this week. You can keep track of what I’ve seen through my Instagram or Facebook accounts.
One of my Big Apple missions was to see the one that got away. I’m not talking about a girl, but a space shuttle.
What? A guy from Houston, home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which served as mission control for the space shuttle program, has to go all the way to NYC to actually see one?
That would be the case. And the Enterprise, the shuttle in NY, is actually just a prototype. Still, good enough for Houston.
Don’t get me wrong, Space Center Houston now has a full-scale, high-fidelity replica of the shuttle called Independence. It's better than nothing, but don't you think the home of JSC should have an actual one?
First off, this is not an attack on New York. I love the city. And there is certainly nothing wrong with the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum where Enterprise now lives.
The museum is housed in a former World War II era aircraft carrier that survived several kamikaze attacks. There is a cool multimedia exhibit that brings this part of its history to life. You can also see vintage helicopters and jet fighters like the F-14 Tomcat, you know, the one Maverick flew in Top Gun.
So among these vintage helicopters and planes is the space shuttle.
In 2011, Our politicians waged a valiant fight to bring a shuttle home to Houston as the program was being retired. Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett held a rally to gain support.
There was even a war of words between Houston Congressman Ted Poe and New York Senator Chuck Schumer. The powerful Senator won that battle.
"And I say to the people in Houston, when people all around the world in London and Tokyo and Paris and Buenos Aires say, 'Gee, I can't wait for my trip to Houston,' then you can have a shuttle," Schumer told a group of reporters back then. "Until then it's staying in New York."
The Enterprise is inside a hangar on top of the aircraft carrier museum. You have to pay extra to see it. Sunday evening, when I tried to buy a ticket, the museum’s staff actually told me I should just come back Monday. I persisted and finally got a ticket along with the other would be patrons behind me.
Heading straight to the shuttle building on the top deck, I noticed one of the first words you see upon entering is the name "Houston" mentioned in the inescapable space slogan associated with our fair city.
Once inside, the majesty of the Enterprise is very apparent. You have to climb stairs to get to the top level to be eye level with the cockpit. While you can’t go inside, this is your chance to really see it up close and get a photo.
Once you get your selfie, you go back down the stairs to see the exhibit which is directly underneath the shuttle. It includes facts and dates about the shuttle program and even an old Russian Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft.
The entire exhibit looks good and serves as a introduction to the retired space vehicle program, but I couldn't help but think a tour of NASA’s JSC could go really well with this experience.
Clearly I wasn't the only one thinking about my hometown when I left the exhibit. I heard a kid say over and over to himself “Houston” as we were going down the stairs.
Couldn't agree with you more kid.