Houston was the first city suggested during the early considerations of where to put the new center for the simple reason that it was the district of Congressman Albert Thomas, the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for NASA appropriations. It was also expected to receive support from the vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, a Texan. But the decision was not simply a political one.
休斯敦是在早期考虑将新中心放置在何处的第一个建议城市，原因很简单，因为它是众议院拨款小组委员会主席，负责NASA拨款的国会议员Albert Thomas所在的地区。 预计它还将得到德克萨斯州副总统林登·约翰逊的支持。 但是这个决定不仅仅是一个政治上的决定。
A list of requirements for the site was generated and publicized by the government, so that candidate sites could be identified. Those requirements were:
- access to water transportation by large barges
- a moderate climate
- availability of all-weather commercial jet service
- a well-established industrial complex with supporting technical facilities and labor
- close proximity to a culturally attractive community in the vicinity of an institution of higher education
- a strong electric utility and water supply
- at least 1000 acres of land
- achievable within specified cost parameters
Those requirements resulted in the identification of 23 qualified sites including the Green Cove Springs Naval Station in Jacksonville, the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Camp Elliott in San Diego, the Benicia Ordnance Depot in San Francisco, sites in Boston, Rhode Island, and Norfolk, and three locations in Houston.
After visiting all 23 sites, the assessment team prioritized three sites, in order: 1) MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa; 2) West Estate land owned by Rice University, just south of Houston, and 3) the Benicia Ordnance Depot near San Francisco.
在访问了所有23个地点之后，评估小组对三个地点进行了优先排序，依次是：1）坦帕的麦克迪尔空军基地； 2）休斯敦以南的莱斯大学（Rice University）拥有的West Estate土地，以及3）旧金山附近的贝尼西亚军械库。
However, the MacDill Air Force Base location, in Tampa, was contingent on land and facilities becoming vacant when the Air Force shut down its Strategic Air Command operations, there. The Air Force cancelled those plans and Tampa became infeasible.
但是， 在坦帕的麦克迪尔空军基地，空军可能关闭其战略空中司令部，空出的土地和设备就可供NASA使用了。 但后来空军并没有关闭，NASA不能使用坦帕。
That put the ranchland owned by Rice University, just south of Houston, into first place. It was an ideal location: It abutted onto Clear Lake (which is really an inlet from the Galveston Bay), allowing barges to easily reach the site from anywhere on the Gulf Coast. Although moderate isn’t a word I would use to describe Houston’s climate, it is moderate in that it has no seasons. Excluding the occasional hurricane, the weather is generally cooperative.
休斯顿南部赖斯大学（Rice University）拥有的牧场就位居第一。 这是一个理想的位置：它毗邻Clear Lake（这实际上是Galveston湾的一个入口），使驳船可以轻松地从墨西哥湾沿岸的任何地方到达该地点。 尽管我不会用温和一词来形容休斯顿的气候，但由于没有季节，所以它是温和的。 除偶尔的飓风外，天气通常是合适的。
Adjacent to the property was Ellington Air Force Base and nearby was Hobby Airport. Just to the northeast were the chemical plants of Pasadena and the Houston Port and to the southeast were the Texas city chemical plants. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting an engineer or technicians. The city of Houston was culturally attractive, even back then, with two major universities, a lot of philanthropist oil/ranch money, and one of the best theater companies in the country.
该物业附近是埃灵顿空军基地，附近是霍比机场。 东北部是帕萨迪纳和休斯顿港的化工厂，东南部是德克萨斯州的化工厂。 你随便丢只猫出去就能砸到一个工程师或者技术人员头上。 休斯敦市在文化上颇具吸引力，即使在那时，也拥有两所主要大学，许多慈善机构的石油/牧场资金以及全美最好的剧院公司之一。
The needs of the chemical and shipping industries guaranteed a robust utility system. The available vacant ranchland was 1000 acres, and since the land had been donated to Rice University by the Humble Oil Company, Rice was willing to make it available to the government at almost no cost. And not an inconsiderable factor, the people of Houston wanted the new space center there. The only people that didn’t want to move to the swamp and rice paddies were the actual NASA employees that were used to the cushy facilities at Langley.
化工和航运业的需求保证了强大的公用事业系统。 可用的闲置牧场为1000英亩，并且由于土地是由 Humble Oil Company 捐赠给莱斯大学的，所以莱斯愿意几乎免费提供给政府。 这并是一个不容忽视的因素，休斯顿人民希望在那里建立新的太空中心。 唯一不想搬到沼泽地和稻田里的人，是习惯了Langley舒适设施的NASA员工。
Being the best location for it, and then having a Texan Vice President, the location being the home district of the Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee, a Texan Speaker of the House (Sam Rayburn), and a Texan Chair of the Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight (Olin Teague) didn’t hurt.
At the top of this answer is how the site looked in 1962. Below is how it looked the following year. In 1965, we controlled our first mission – Gemini IV.
In 1961, Congress held hearings and passed a $1.7 billion 1962 NASA appropriations bill which included $60 million for the new crewed spaceflight laboratory. A set of requirements for the new site was drawn up and released to the Congress and general public. These included: access to water transport by large barges, a moderate climate, availability of all-weather commercial jet service, a well-established industrial complex with supporting technical facilities and labor, close proximity to a culturally attractive community in the vicinity of an institution of higher education, a strong electric utility and water supply, at least 1,000 acres of land, and certain specified cost parameters. In August 1961, Webb asked Associate Director of the Ames Research Center John F. Parsons to head a site-selection team, which included Philip Miller, Wesley Hjornevik, and I. Edward Campagna, the construction engineer for the STG. The team initially came up with a list of 22 cities based on the climate and water criteria, then cut this to a short list of nine with nearby federal facilities:
1961年，国会举行听证会，并通过了1962年美国宇航局的一项17亿美元拨款法案，其中包括为新的载人航天实验室提供的6000万美元。为新站点制定了一套要求，并已向国会和公众发布。其中包括：通过大型驳船获得水运，适度的气候，全天候的商用喷气式飞机服务，设施完善的工业园区以及配套的技术设施和劳动力，并靠近机构附近具有文化吸引力的社区高等教育，强大的电力和供水设施，至少1,000英亩的土地以及某些特定的成本参数。 1961年8月，韦伯请埃姆斯研究中心副主任约翰·帕森斯（John F. Parsons）领导一个选址小组，其中包括菲利普·米勒（Philip Miller），韦斯利·约恩内维克（Wesley Hjornevik）和STG的建筑工程师爱德华·坎帕尼亚（I. Edward Campagna）。该团队最初根据气候和水的标准提出了22个城市的清单，然后将其缩减为9个，并带有附近联邦设施的清单：
- Jacksonville, Florida (Green Cove Springs Naval Station)
- Tampa, Florida (MacDill Air Force Base)
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Shreveport, Louisiana (Barksdale Air Force Base)
- Houston, Texas (San Jacinto Army Ordnance Depot)
- Victoria, Texas (FAA Airport)
- Corpus Christi, Texas (Naval Air Station)
- San Diego, California (Camp Elliott)
- San Francisco, California (Benicia Arsenal)
- 佛罗里达杰克逊维尔（Green Cove Springs海军站）
- 加利福尼亚圣地亚哥（Camp Elliott）
Another 14 sites were then added, including two additional Houston sites chosen because of proximity to the University of Houston and Rice University. The team visited all 23 sites between August 21 and September 7, 1961. During these visits, Massachusetts Governor John A. Volpe and Senator Margaret Chase Smith headed a delegation which exerted particularly strong political pressure, prompting a personal inquiry to Webb from President Kennedy. Senators and Congressmen from sites in Missouri and California similarly lobbied the selection team. Proponents of sites in Boston, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Norfolk, Virginia, went so far as to make separate presentations to Webb and the headquarters staff, so Webb added these additional sites to the final review.
Following its tour, the team identified MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa as its first choice, based on the fact the Air Force was planning to close down its Strategic Air Command operations there. The Houston Rice University site was second, and the Benicia Ordnance Depot in San Francisco was third. Before a decision could be made, however, the Air Force decided not to close MacDill, omitting it from consideration and moving the Rice University site to first place. Webb informed President Kennedy on September 14 of the decision made by him and deputy administrator Hugh Dryden in two separate memoranda, one reviewing the criteria and procedures, and the other stating: “Our decision is that this laboratory should be located in Houston, Texas, in close association with Rice University and the other educational institutions there and in that region.” The Executive Office and NASA made advance notifications of the award, and the public announcement of the location followed on September 19, 1961.
According to Texas A&M University historian Henry C. Dethloff, “Although the Houston site neatly fit the criteria required for the new center, Texas undoubtedly exerted an enormous political influence on such a decision. Lyndon B. Johnson was Vice President and head of the Space Council, Albert Thomas headed the House Appropriations Committee, Bob Casey and Olin E. Teague were members of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, and Teague headed the Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight. Finally, Sam Rayburn was Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
据德克萨斯农工大学历史学家亨利·德斯洛夫（Henry C. Dethloff）说：“尽管休斯敦基地完全符合新中心的要求，但德克萨斯州无疑对这一决定施加了巨大的政治影响。林登·约翰逊（Lyndon B. Johnson）是该太空站的副总裁兼负责人理事会上，阿尔伯特·托马斯（Albert Thomas）领导了众议院拨款委员会，鲍勃·凯西（Bob Casey）和奥林·蒂格（Olin E. Teague）担任了众议院科学与航天委员会的成员，蒂格（Teague）领导了载人航天小组委员会，最后，萨姆·雷伯恩（Sam Rayburn）担任了众议院议长。 “ 
The land for the new facility was 1,000 acres (400 hectares) donated to Rice by the Humble Oil company, situated in an undeveloped area 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Houston adjacent to Clear Lake near Galveston Bay. At the time, the land was used to graze cattle. Immediately after Webb’s announcement, Gilruth and his staff began planning the move from Langley to Houston, using what would grow to 295,996 square feet (27,498.9 m2) of leased office and laboratory space in 11 scattered sites. On November 1, the conversion of the Task Group to MSC became official.
新工厂的土地是由谦卑石油公司捐赠给赖斯的1,000英亩（400公顷）土地，该公司位于休斯顿东南25英里（40公里）未开发的地区，毗邻加尔维斯顿湾附近的澄湖。  当时，这片土地被用来放牧牛。韦伯宣布这一消息后，吉尔鲁思及其工作人员立即开始计划从兰利迁至休斯敦，使用在11个分散地点的租赁办公室和实验室空间将增长至295,996平方英尺（27,498.9平方米）。 11月1日，任务组正式转换为MSC。
Tracts of land in the vicinity of the Manned Spacecraft Center were either owned or being under exclusive control of Joseph L. Smith & Associates, Inc. NASA purchased an additional 600 acres (240 hectares) so the property would face a highway, and the total included another 20 acres (8.1 hectares) reserve drilling site. Construction of the center, designed by Charles Luckman, began in April 1962, and Gilruth’s new organization was formed and moved to the temporary locations by September. That month, Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University on the US space program. The speech is famous for highlighting the Apollo program, but Kennedy also made reference to the new Center:
1491/5000载人航天器中心附近的土地是约瑟夫·史密斯公司（Joseph L. Smith＆Associates，Inc.）所拥有或独占。美国宇航局又购买了600英亩（240公顷）的土地，因此该物业将面临高速公路，而总资产还包括另外20英亩（8.1公顷）的储备钻探场地。该中心由查尔斯·拉克曼（Charles Luckman）设计，始于1962年4月，吉尔鲁斯（Gilruth）的新组织成立，并于9月移至临时地点。当月，肯尼迪在莱斯大学就美国太空计划发表演讲。演讲以突出阿波罗计划而闻名，但肯尼迪还提到了新的中心：
What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, … with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.
— John F. Kennedy, Speech at Rice University, September 12, 1962
——约翰·肯尼迪（John F. Kennedy），1962年9月12日在莱斯大学的演讲