71ºF

How Houston landed NASA's space center

The Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle is seen in Rocket Park at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center on April 3, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

HOUSTON – Houston landed the title of Space City over 50 years ago.

The space center was constructed in September 1963 and beat out 12 other cities.

Now there are many NASA facilities all over the world, from Australia to California to Maryland.

However, Houston still keeps the Space City title and brings in an influx of people for both tourism and work. Here is a little more about the station and how it came to be.

Congress passed the $1.7 billion NASA appropriations bill for a new “manned spaceflight laboratory” in 1962. When looking for the location for the new space center, Congress agreed that certain criteria must be met. Criteria included access to water transport, a mild climate, close to an institute of higher education and at least 1,000 acres of land. John F. Parsons, the associate director of the Ames Research Center, headed up a team of professionals for site selection. They came up with a list of 22 adequate cities, which was then narrowed to 12 cities.

The cities were Jacksonville, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Houston, Victoria, Corpus Christi, San Diego and San Francisco. 

Houston was viewed as an ideal site due to the closeness of Rice University and the University of Houston. Yet Tampa was the initial first choice due to the Air Force wanting to close down its Strategic Air Command location there.

When the Air Force decided not to close down the location, Houston was the first pick. While Houston fit all the criteria and more, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was said to have some pull as a Texas native and head of the Space Council. 

The initial 1,000 acres of land were donated from the Humble Oil Company to Rice University. NASA then purchased 600 supplementary acres along with a total of 20 acres to reserve a drilling site. 

The space center has now led many leading expeditions, ranging from the Apollo program to the space shuttle program. It is a leading player in the industry, and Houstonians are known for the history and contributions to the center.

Information from Wikipedia was used for this article.