The Empty Future of the Johnson Space Center

THE EMPTY FUTURE OF THE JOHNSON SPACE CENTER Former Space Shuttle manager Wayne Hale sees the writing on the wall: “Thousands of high paid, white collar jobs are leaving the Clear Lake area as NASA and JSC wind down. The City of Houston and the State of Texas have done, well, next to nothing. Nobody gets excited; nobody tries to bring new work here, a little lip service, no real effort. Nope, Houston does not deserve an orbiter because Houston doesn’t care. Don’t expect JSC and its mission control to be here forever just because we are entitled to them. No, with the level of interest that our citizens and leaders have in JSC, I soon expect to see that facility in the hands of a different federal agency. Soon the National Park Service will be leading tours through the historic – and empty – halls of the Johnson Space Center National Historic Site. Because we just don’t care enough to do anything about it.” [Space News]

21 Comment

  • I think this article is biased. The population of native Houstonians may view the space center as an entitlement, but those of us who have moved here recently see it very differently. I have taken my family down the the space center twice in the past two years, and we have toured the halls, marveled at the wonders that were created and managed through the storied buildings. I think it is a shame more people do not realize the resource that exists here. Johnson Space Center is more than just a collection of buildings. It is hte embodiment of the hunger and thirst to understand the universe we live in. No wher else in houston can you touch with your own hands a fragment of moon rock, or view the workrooms of astronauts. These experiences can lead to more than just the retention of this resource, they can lead our children to dream and imagine the great things they can create and be involved in.

  • At best, the theme park will expand to turn into a Upchucky Cheese-like center. At worst, more downward real estate pressure, as if Clear Lake’s fine waters needed that. Best thing they do is to let the golden technology goose dwindle down to manicured lawns and gangsta hangouts.

  • These are overwhelmingly federal dollars.

    Houston can do nothing about that fact.
    What does he want us to do? Impose a local “space tax”?

    I completely understand the emotion, just not
    the logic.

  • I don’t think it is a matter of whether Houston cares or not. It is really more the fact that Houston is all grown up now and not the adolescent metropolis of yesterday that prized the dollars NASA brought to the area. Houston now has a self-sustaining diversified economy that can get along just fine without the shuttle program. And when the next space vehicle program comes around, JSC will be back in business. You can put a space shuttle in any museum in the US. But where else in the US do you have a facility like JSC to support a space vehicle mission?

  • Whenever I have family or friends in town, I always take them to Johnson Space Center. More often than not, they’re very impressed by Mission Control and the Saturn 5 rocket. And someday when I have little hellions of my own, I look forward to dropping them off into that massive ball pit so I can take a break from parenting and eat some Dippin’ Dots.

  • Just ask NASA Director Charles Bolden “the space agency’s priority is Muslim outreach”

    The layoffs are underway, over 5,000 contractors will be on the street by year end, but fear not for the civil servants, Obama has stated their jobs are safe. The administration will offer career transition assistance to shuttle employees in Florida but not in Houston. Hope and change baby!

  • At any rate – the Clear Lake area in 5 years is going to be a bad place to own real estate.

  • there is a tremendous amount of research that goes on to within the JCS campus. These scientists develop experimentaion that is taken on missions that have helped to develop the computers we use to the advances in health care. It is sad to see that we no longer value the efforts that have gone into the work of the thousands who stay on the ground during a mission. I got to see much of this from behind the scenes that many don’t get to ever know. Yes, the mission of the program needs to change and grow into a new mission but i hope never to see it as just a theme park.

  • The Space Center is here only because Lyndon Johnson, as president, pushed hard – demanded -it here. There’s no logic to locating mission control or any other part of the space program, here.

  • Diversified economy? I’m seeing healthcare and petrochemicals/energy. Not much else though.

  • Re “Houston now has a self-sustaining diversified economy that can get along”

  • Never A Straight Answer (NASA).
    JSC is to be history, is why a shuttle not coming home here to the H.
    Like de says, JSC is just some leftover LBJ pork.

  • Yes, the era of space travel, big dreams and national achievments are behind us. That land can now serve the people in a more era-appropriate way as a Homeland Security supercenter, NSA data mining complex or military base/torture depot.

  • I sense the writer is extremely frustrated at the JSC closing, as well as disappointed with houstonians. it’s deserved. i’m a houstonian and am sad to know that obama canned one of man’s greatest achievements and it’s right here in our home town. like most houstonians, i’m pretty sure we all feel helpless with the decision’s that’s made since our voices were not heard, and frankly, i don’t remember voting for the end of the space program.

    where does one start if we want to protest against the poor decision that has been in place? would it matter since we really don’t live under a demacratic government any more?

  • NASA and JSC were very nice to have in the Houston-area, but if they no longer have a defined purpose, then they are just big pieces of expendable pork. Of course, no one likes it when THEIR pork projects are cut from the budget, and if you voted to “shrink the federal government,” then you did vote for this.

    Space Center Houston is a Disney-fied version of what used to be. It was much cooler when visitors could walk around the campus at their leisure–and it was free.

  • ^ True, matx.
    Also, you could eat lunch in the cafeteria with JSC employees!

  • Local universities should have done a lot more to make themselves essential to NASA’s mission and it’s people. That obviously didn’t happen…

  • Kim – Quit inventing “facts.” The death of the shuttle program was decided long before Obama got into office.

    Gotta wonder, though, how many of the moaners were completely against the auto industry getting any help.
    1. Space travel is going commercial and robotic.
    2. No one country can afford to send humans into space anymore. It’s simple economics.
    3. No job category is sacred. Sorry, aerospace people, but that is how it goes in the 21st century.

  • Cut spending, trim the fat, stop doing non-essential things …. unless of course it benefits me in some way. Its very easy to tell politicians to reduce spending when its an abtstract demand, much harder when you try to actually pinpoint the programs that should get cut.

  • Houston is complacent, but so is the rest of the nation. The only futures we have are A) one in which we seek knowledge and understanding of the greater universe, beyond what is right in front of us or B) one where we continue to tread water. Where the achievments in the sciences are only applied to your moble phone and things to distract us from the failing society at large. I have never seen NASA as anything less than necessary, because without it what d owe have to be proud of? What is out there to marvel at? No, NASA is not prok in the same way that a bridge to nowhere is, NASA and other agencies involved in R&D should have their place in future America.

  • But wait! Rick Perry said Texas was “open for business!” Can’t we just get this secession business taken care of and build us our own moon rockit?