Tulsa To Learn Tuesday If It Will Land A Space Shuttle

Monday, April 11th 2011, 7:37 am
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- NASA will announce Tuesday which cities will get a retired Space Shuttle.  There is more than a chance one will land in Tulsa, creating a huge tourist attraction that would transform the Tulsa Air & Space Museum.

3/4/2011 Related Story: NASA To Announce Next Month If Tulsa Gets Retiring Space Shuttle

The announcement will come Tuesday afternoon, on the anniversary of the first shuttle flight. Tulsa is still in the running and wants the only shuttle that's landed here once before.

It was August 1979 when the space shuttle prototype, Enterprise, landed at Tulsa International. Ten-thousand people came out to see it.

2/24/2011 Related Story: Shuttle Launch Focuses Attention On Tulsa's Contributions To The Program

They could get a second chance, if NASA picks Tulsa for a shuttle.

"First of all we'll have a huge party, secondly we start making phone calls to figure out how to make this happen financially," Kim Jones, with the Tulsa Air & Space Museum, said.

It's at least a $28 million idea that the Air & Space Museum believes can actually happen. Tulsa remains in what NASA says is a list of 21 qualified contenders for the three shuttles.

"We know our runway is capable of handling it," Jones said. "One of NASA's requirements was that you be adjacent to an airport, we're on an airport. We actually have runway access to the museum. You have to have an educational mission and that was out number one requirement when we started the museum."

The main gallery is filled with aircraft now, including an F-14, but the Shuttle would become the new centerpiece, and there's a plan to build a $20 million display room in what is now the parking lot.

Other museums are just as optimistic and have stronger connections to the shuttle program.

Tulsa's best chance could be in that museum leaders asked for the only shuttle that hasn't been into orbit, while everyone else wants the other two.

Read the Tulsa Air and Space Museum's request to NASA

The Enterprise would cost less and be ready to display first. It's the one that's been to Tulsa once before.

"It never flew in space, so it doesn't have the fuel lines that need to be purged and clean like the orbiters that flew in space, so it's clean," Jones said.

Tulsa's connection is that the cargo bay doors were built here, along with some of the ground handling equipment for the shuttle program. Major components of the space station were built here too.