OKLAHOMA CITY - The next generation of NASA Space Shuttles could be based in Oklahoma. That is the hope of state lawmakers who adopted a resolution today endorsing a proposal to make the former Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base a home-base for the Space Shuttle Program.
Senator Gilmer Capps (D-Snyder) and Representative Jack Bonny (D-Burns Flat) have been the driving forces behind efforts to offer the former air base near Burns Flat to NASA officials. Clinton-Sherman provides the ideal facility and ideal conditions needed for the space agency.
"NASA is seeking a site with a 15,000 foot, all-weather runway," said Senator Capps. "They need a sparsely populated area with a long, wide and thick runway for testing and commercial use. Clinton-Sherman fits the bill perfectly."
Lockheed/Martin has contracted with NASA to build "VentureStar" vehicles as replacements for the current fleet of space shuttles. The first flight of the "VentureStar" is scheduled for 2003. They are expected to enter commercial service in 2005.
The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission is also heavily involved in the work to draw NASA to the Sooner state. Commission staff are working with the Florida Spaceport Authority to create an alliance of strategically aligned states to further the efforts of member states in the commercialization of space technologies.
"An estimated 200 to 300 new jobs could be created with the selection of Clinton-Sherman as a space shuttle base," said Representative Bonny. "They would be high tech, high quality jobs that pay above average salaries. The educational resource it would provide to our public schools would be invaluable as well. Future astronauts could find their inspiration to travel in space with a NASA presence in Oklahoma."
"Oklahoma has a rich aviation history and as well as a strong connections with America's space program," added Senator Capps. "From Shawnee's Gordon Cooper and Weatherford's Tom Stafford to Bethany's Shannon Lucid, Oklahomans have always been willing to be a major part of space discovery and exploration."
Copies of the resolution in support of converting Clinton-Sherman into a shuttle launch, land, re-launch and payload processing facility will be sent to NASA, Lockheed/Martin, the Aeronautics Commission, and the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation.