Air Force shuttle funding request, upcoming hearing

People in both Ohio and Florida are abuzz over an item tucked away deep in the Air Force’s budget request for FY12. On page 599 (PDF page 604) of operations and maintenance budget document the Air Force requests $14 million to transport a space shuttle to the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio:

> The United States Air Force (USAF) has played a central role in the development of space capabilities that are vital to national security, economic growth, public safety and welfare. As a historic reminder of the USAF contributions in space the USAF has requested an interagency transfer of the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the National Museum of the United States Air Force to be displayed for viewing. One-time funding is provided to pay (NASA) for preparation and delivery of Space Shuttle Atlantis to the National Museum of the Air Force.

That line item in the Air Force budget “suggests that the White House and the Air Force favor the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force as a final destination for Atlantis,” the Dayton Daily News reports. The article adds that NASA administrator Charles Bolden was not aware of the request, though, and that no decision on the disposition of the shuttle orbiters would be made until at least April.

Yesterday, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, issued a statement on the administration’s 2012 budget request. Only one sentence of the statement is partially devoted to NASA and NOAA: “The President’s budget request also provides needed funding for NOAA, NASA, and FAA.” The leadership of the committee has not issued a statement on the budget request, but the committee is holding a hearing on the overall federal R&D budget request Thursday at 10 am, with OSTP director John Holdren the sole scheduled witness.


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