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Rep. Turner, Senators Voinovich and Brown lead delegation efforts to secure retired NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter for NMUSAF

Ohio Delegation sends letter to NASA Administrator Major General Charles F. Bolden advocating for the NASA Orbiter to be housed at National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base

U.S. Congressman Mike Turner and Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich authored a letter signed by the entire Ohio Congressional Delegation to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to expressing continued strong support for the transfer of a retired space shuttle orbiter at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The Secretary of the Air Force has requested a retired space-flown orbiter for long-term preservation and public display at NMUSAF. The Air Force was instrumental in determining the orbiter’s design and capabilities and many of the shuttle astronauts have been members of the Air Force. NMUSAF has identified the Air Force Space Mission as its most important exhibit priority.

“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, just miles away from the historic home of the Orville and Wilbur Wright, will strengthen the aerospace heritage of the region. In addition, it will serve as an educational attraction for students and residents interested in America’s space program and encourage local tourism and economic growth. I appreciate the support of the entire Ohio Congressional Delegation in this effort.”

“The Space Shuttle Program ushered in a new era of American space exploration. Over the last 30 years, the program has lead our nation to both experience the heights of human accomplishment and to the explore depths of despair,” Sen. Voinovich said. “Each of the Space Shuttle’s orbiters tell a unique story about our nation’s space program, and they should be placed strategically across the country to allow as many Americans as possible the opportunity to learn about these incredible machines. The National Museum of the United States at Ohio’s Wright Patterson is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum. Since it is visited by 1.3 million people annually, free of charge, I think this museum is the perfect place to locate an orbiter to allow the next generation of explorers, scientists and mathematicians to learn its history.”

“Wright Patterson Air Force Base is a hub for science, technology, research and development. This makes the National Museum of the United States Air Force a perfect place to display an orbiter,” Sen. Brown said. “By locating the Shuttle at Wright-Patt, thousands of Ohioans will be able to see the success of our space program and integral role Ohio plays in supporting NASA.”

Ohio has a rich aerospace history. It is home to the Glenn Research Center, one of only 10 NASA research centers in the country. It is the premier NASA facility for microgravity science, in-space transportation, aerospace communications, and aeropropulsion and interdisciplinary research for bioscience. NASA’s economic impact to the state exceeds $1.2 billion and acts as a catalyst of the 1,200 aerospace-related companies in Ohio – companies that employ more than 100,000 Ohioans.

Last April, Rep. Turner, Senators Voinovich and Brown led the Ohio Congressional Delegation in sending a letter of support for the transfer of an orbiter to Acting NASA Administrator Charles Scolese. Rep. Turner reiterated this request in February after Major General Bolden took over as NASA Administrator. Today’s letter reiterates the Ohio Delegation’s support to Administrator Bolden to send an orbiter to NMUSAF.

The text of the Ohio Congressional Delegation letter follows.

Major General Charles F. Bolden, USMC (Ret.)
Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20546-0002

Dear General Bolden:

We are writing to express our continued support for the Secretary of the Air Force’s request for an interagency transfer of a retired space-worthy orbiter for preservation and display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) in Ohio. We wish to reiterate our support by emphasizing the mutual advantages for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Air Force, and the American people.

The conveyance of a retired orbiter to the Air Force is in keeping with federal property procedures and, as with the similar conveyance to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, it retains this most valued and historic aerospace vehicle firmly in the stewardship of the federal government. The Air Force has a long record of proven achievements and excellence in historic preservation and is highly capable of accepting this challenge and responsibility. The Air Force and the NMUSAF staff have considerable resources and skilled manpower to aid in its transportation, preparation for exhibit, appropriate display, as well as the continued safeguarding and care in the years to come.

We believe that public visibility and accessibility are also key benefits to placing an orbiter with the Air Force’s national museum. The NMUSAF, located on historic Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is at the cross roads of Middle America. Within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population, the museum is easily accessible to millions from across the American heartland, hosting more than 1.3 million visitors annually. It is our understanding that the institution is well equipped to accommodate the increased attendance that would be expected to result from the display of an orbiter. Moreover, the NMUSAF, which is the world’s oldest and largest aviation museum, is in the final planning stages of a new 200,000 square foot addition to accommodate its own continued growth and popularity. This state of the art facility will offer a premier venue to showcase the shuttle and highlight the NASA–Air Force partnership that is embodied in the shuttle program.

Strengthening important aerospace heritage relationships is another key benefit of placement of an orbiter at the NMUSAF and the historic home of the Wright brothers. Ohio, the birthplace of aviation, is proud of its century long tradition of aviation pioneering and development. This continues today through the partnering with NASA in aeronautic and astronautic development at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, NASA’s Glenn Research Center, and related research, and educational institutions across Ohio.

Though the NMUSAF serves a growing national audience, since Ohio is the host state, we wish to assure you that our State and local communities are in support of the Air Force’s request and will work to contribute to its success. Ohio’s Congressional delegation is confident that the Air Force, with the enthusiastic support of Ohioans across our State, will successfully address the complexities and challenges of orbiter placement.

With these facts and our support in mind, we hope that you will carefully consider the many advantages of placing an orbiter under Air Force stewardship at the NMUSAF. We all look forward to Ohio becoming a home for this national treasure and being able to aid in sharing an important chapter in space history for all Americans.

Sincerely,

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

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