CLEAR LAKE, Texas -- Visitors found racial and political graffiti on one side of the full-size space shuttle replica outside Space Center Houston early Wednesday.
“Houston we are the problem,” was among the writing on the side of Space Shuttle Independence.
The graffiti included at least one racial slur along with other offensive messages. Black paint was also sprayed on part of the structure that holds up the replica.
A tour bus operator was among the first to discover the vandalism as he dropped off visitors early Wednesday morning.
“To the person who did this: you really need to check yourself, because you’re making it bad for all other decent people in this town,” said the driver.
“I think probably, to the people, they thought there was a message, but no one else besides them knows, and it’s kind of pointless really,” one visitor told WFAA sister station KHOU 11 News.
“To do it with this, it’s kind of off the wall,” said another visitor. “It’s disgusting.”
Cleanup crews quickly got to work, but there was no word as to how long it would take to remove or cover up the vandalism.
Police are investigating and hope surveillance video captured the suspect or suspects in the act.
The replica shuttle, once named Explorer, arrived in Houston in June 2012 after being on display at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida since 1994.
Houston, which has deep ties to the nation's space program and is home to Johnson Space Center and Mission Control, unsuccessfully tried to land one of NASA's four retired space shuttles. Considered a consolation prize of sorts, Explorer was renamed Independence after it arrived in Houston.