HELL'S KITCHEN — Intrepid, we have a problem.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has opened up a new front in the space race — asking NASA in a scathing letter to nix plans to send the Enterprise shuttle to the Intrepid in favor of a museum in his home state.
The missive, in which Brown calls New York "woefully unprepared" to house the shuttle, comes on the heels of reports that the museum would not be able to house the craft in its existing facilities, and would instead have to build a new facility in a parking lot it does not own across the West Side Highway.
To do that, local officials would have to rezone the property, which is currently zoned for manufacturing — a potentially long process. Brown, in his strongest words yet against the move to New York, called the news a "bait-and-switch."
"If the Intrepid Museum's plan was to build a new facility in an area of New York that it does not currently have permission to build on, that should have been made clear to NASA from the start," Brown wrote in a Oct. 11 letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
"This report makes it evident that New York City was, and still is, woefully unprepared to house the Enterprise Space Shuttle. This also raises further questions about the thoroughness of NASA's selection process — and I urge NASA to revisit its decision to send the Enterprise to New York.”
In their application to house the shuttle, Intrepid officials said the shuttle would be put next to the Intrepid itself. But because of the shuttle's size, the museum reportedly reconsidered and was looking at a building a new complex across the street.
"These actions would represent a completely different proposal from the one NASA considered," Brown wrote.
Brown once again argued that the shuttle belongs at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The Intrepid's administrators have previously said the shuttle would get much more exposure in New York, largely because of the millions of tourists that already come to the museum every year.
The shuttle is currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and will cost roughly $8.3 million dollars to move to New York.
Officials from the Intrepid would not comment specifically on Brown's letter, but did suggest that the shuttle would still make it to the shores of the Hudson River.
“We look forward to the Enterprise’s arrival at the Intrepid, which will quickly become New York City’s newest landmark and seen by millions of visitors to our great city," said museum president Susan Marenoff-Zausner in a statement. "While we continue to be in the planning stages, we remain on track with both our logistics and our fund-raising.”
The prototype shuttle, which never flew in space and was used largely for test flights within earth's atmosphere, is one of four being sent to various museums across the country. Three others that did make it to the final frontier will be housed in Florida, Los Angeles, and Virginia.
According to NASA, the Intrepid has until Jan. 12, 2012 to come up with the cash needed to pay for the move from D.C. to Hell's Kitchen.