WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), George Voinovich (R-OH), and U.S. Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-OH) led a letter today with the Ohio Congressional Delegation expressing 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.

“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,” 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.”

“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.”

“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 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.

Last April, Sens. Brown, Voinovich, and Rep Turner led the Ohio Congressional Delegation in sending a letter of support for the transfer of a retired orbiter to Acting NASA Administrator Charles Scolese as the Space Shuttle program neared completion of its scheduled service. 

Full text of the delegation letter can be found below:

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,

Sherrod Brown                George V. Voinovich         Michael R. Turner
United States Senator      United States Senator      Member of Congress
   
John A. Boehner            Steve Austria             Jim Jordan
Member of Congress      Member of Congress  Member of Congress

Steve Driehaus                Jean Schmidt             Robert E. Latta
Member of Congress        Member of Congress   Member of Congress

Charlie Wilson                Marcy Kaptur             Dennis J.Kucinich
Member of Congress       Member of Congress  Member of Congress   

Marcia L. Fudge            Patrick J. Tiberi             Betty S. Sutton
Member of Congress     Member of Congress     Member of Congress

Steven C. LaTourette            Mary Jo Kilroy             John A. Boccieri
Member of Congress            Member of Congress    Member of Congress
           
Tim Ryan                        Zack Space           
Member of Congress        Member of Congress


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