The fleet of space shuttles that has orbited the Earth for 30 years will retire as museum pieces in Washington, D.C., Florida and Los Angeles, NASA announced this week.

The shuttle Discovery will call The Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center outside D.C. its home, while the Endeavor will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Scheduled for its last trip in June, shuttle Atlantis will go to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Even though some states applauded NASA’s decision, others may have miscalculated their chances of housing a historic shuttle. The Museum of Flight in Seattle already started to build a wing in hopes of landing an orbiter, The New York Times reported. Advocates for the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio and for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas were also disappointed.

Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) said in a statement that he believed the decisions may have been political, as he voiced disappointment that Houston, home of NASA’s Mission Control, didn’t receive a shuttle.

“The men and women who launch and land every shuttle flight have earned the right to call one of the retired orbiters home,” Olson said. “This oversight smacks of a political gesture in an agency that has always served above politics.”

A budget deal reached by Congress on the week of April 10 cut from various agencies and programs, but NASA was largely unaffected. Congress allotted the agency $18.45 billion for the final five months of the 2011 fiscal year. The NASA Science Mission Directorate, the agency that funds space probes, telescopes and satellites will see an increase of funds with an allotment of $4.945 billion for the remainder of 2011, a $448 million increase from 2010.

During the space shuttle bidding process, twenty-one organizations sent requests for an orbiter, The New York Times reported. Sites who did not receive a shuttle may get other pieces of NASA hardware.

Erica Butler

AFRO Staff Writer