Contest opens to name shuttle

Posted Friday, Jul. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Many Texans were in a huff two years ago when NASA announced that not one of the retiring space shuttles would be coming to Houston, a place identified with the space program more than any other except Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Twenty-one museums and visitor centers submitted bids for the spacecrafts, and most assumed that two of the four would be reserved for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Va., and the Kennedy Space Center — and they were — leaving two for which the other 19 cities would compete.

Houston didn’t make the cut, losing out to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City and the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Immediately some blamed the decision on politics: Obama not liking Texas; New York and Los Angeles being blue states, and Virginia and Florida being key swing states for the upcoming presidential election; and three sites were on the leftist east coast and one on the west coast.

But, Houston has not been left out completely, and its planned shuttle exhibit may prove to be just as exiting, and perhaps more so, than the others.

Last month the Explorer, the full-scale replica of a shuttle that was on display at the Kennedy Space Center, was shipped by barge to Houston, where it will be paired in an exhibit with an authentic 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft that was used to ferry the spacecrafts to Florida when they had to land in California.

The two will combine for a six-story-tall attraction that visitors will be able to board and tour beginning in 2015.

But, there’s one problem. Before Explorer was sent to Houston, the name was removed from the craft, in effect leaving it nameless. That’s where you come in.

The Johnson Space Center has launched a “Name the Shuttle” contest that kicked off on July 4 and will run through Labor Day, with the winner to be announced by Sept. 10.

Officials say the name should symbolize “the spirit of Texas and its unique characteristics of independence, optimism and can-do attitude.”

Entrants must be 18 or older and legal residents of Texas.

The winner, in addition to being invited to the grand opening ceremony and having his/her name printed on a placard at the site, will be awarded other prizes. For more details on the contest and to submit a name, go to

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?