“There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” – President John F. Kennedy at Rice Stadium in Houston, Sept. 12, 1962.
HOUSTON – (By Ralph Bivins of Realty News Report) – Space City is back! Or at least it could be, if Houston can re-harness the legendary can-do spirit that made the city great. Opportunity awaits Space City, which needs to regain its economic footing in short order.
Did Space City lose its undefeatable attitude and entrepreneurial fire? Maybe Houston’s leadership became obese and kicked back in the La-Z-Boy, satisfied with making a multitude of excuses while Dallas scored win after win in economic development.
But it’s true, Houston still calls itself Space City and NASA Johnson Space Center is still located in the southeastern suburb called Clear Lake City.
On Saturday, two NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, climbed on a SpaceX rocket and blasted off from Cape Canaveral. On Sunday, they docked with the International Space Station about 250 miles over the Earth.
It was the first American manned launch in almost a decade and it was completed by a partnership of NASA and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who has emerged as the key entrepreneurial leader of the world.
The United States, with help from SpaceX, is getting back into manned space launches – and that re-opens a door for Houston. In 1961, the NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center was established on 1,700 acres in southeast Harris County. Our first astronauts lived nearby.
Astronauts were Houston celebrity/heroes in those days. While space travel was the talk of the town, the city built a stadium – the world’s first air-conditioned domed stadium called the Astrodome. In these times, Houston staked its claim to title of Space City with the new stadium. Astronaut Gus Grissom, fresh from piloting a Gemini III flight, attended the first Houston Astros baseball game on April 9, 1965. The Astrodome’s female ushers were called “Spacettes.”
With the new nickname of Space City, Houston had the can-do spirit in those says. Doubters said the Astrodome couldn’t be built. Houston did it. Grass wouldn’t grow in the stadium. So Houston invented Astroturf. Innovation was everywhere.
At NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center – it wasn’t renamed after President Lyndon Johnson until 1973 – Houston’s space heroes worked on Mercury and Gemini program. They were motivated.
NASA was busy trying to fulfill the vision articulated by President John F. Kennedy in a speech at Rice Stadium on Sept. 12, 1962. American astronauts, Kennedy said, shall set foot on the Moon before the end of the decade.
Space City supported Kennedy’s goal and NASA put a man on the Moon in 1969. Kennedy’s vision prevailed, even though an assassin had taken him from us.
The Next Step …
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule smoothly docked with the Space Station on Sunday, drawing praise from NASA Administrator Jim Brindenstine at Mission Control in Houston.
For NASA, this flight ushers in a new way of operating. “NASA is not going to purchase, own and operate capsules the way we used to. We’re going to partner with commercial industry,” Brindenstine said.
So Musk’s SpaceX, or perhaps other firms, will be creating the rocketry and NASA will be sending the astronauts. Future commercialization and even tourism flights will be launched.
Space City should be a big player in NASA’s new era. Manned space flight is back and Houston has been the epicenter of the astronaut world from the beginning.
In recent weeks, Elon Musk has expressed displeasure about the business climate in California. He said he wanted to relocate the headquarters of Tesla electric car company to Texas or Nevada.
Musk is considering sites for Tesla’s new Cybertruck factory. Tulsa and suburban Austin are shortlisted. Houston should be in the Cybertruck hunt, but the naysayers say environmental regulations on a Cybertruck factory are too tough for Houston to overcome. (I know it’s crazy, but the way the federal Clean Air Act plays out now, it’s easier to build a chemical plant than a car factory in the Houston area. So how much of a Cybertruck effort has been put forth by the defeatists at the Greater Houston Partnership? Imagine, Tesla’s Cybertruck factory is a 10,000-job deal.)
Houston has lost 400,000 jobs since the pandemic arrived. The city’s economy needs to lift off again. We don’t have time to wait for start-ups to blossom. The oil business is in trouble with the rig count near a record low. A lot of Houston’s proposed savior projects could be delayed or dropped because of the pandemic-related economic crash.
Space City needs to convince Musk to move Tesla and SpaceX to Houston. Space City is Elon Musk’s kind of town.
Commentary by Ralph Bivins, Editor, Realty News Report
June 2, 2020 Realty News Report Copyright 2020
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