With the end of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, the 4 existing shuttles are going on display in museums around the country. The Atlantis will be displayed in Cape Canaveral at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida near the NASA launch site. The Endeavor will be on display at the California Science Center while the Smithsonian Institue’s National Air & Space Museum in DC is getting the shuttle Discovery.
The Discovery isn’t the first shuttle that the Smithsonian has ever had on display. The prototype, Enterprise, has been at the Smithsonian since 1985 and on display since 2004. But the Smithsonian can’t have 2 shuttles. That would just seem greedy! So, as I mentioned in a blog entry a while back, the Enterprise is coming to NYC to be on permanent display at the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum starting this summer!!
Some people are annoyed that NYC didn’t get a “real” space shuttle and have been calling the Enterprise “fake”. But I for one am very excited to welcome the Enterprise to the big apple! The value of this test vehicle should not be understated. Without the information gathered from the Enterprise’s test flights in the late 1970’s no space shuttle would ever have flown. She was used for important approach and landing tests plus vibration testing. She was also used during the investigation following the loss of the shuttle Columbia. NASA removed a fiberglass panel from Enterprise’s wing and shot a foam block at it– to see if the foam could damage the wing enough to cause destruction upon reentry. This research was instrumental in determining the cause the Columbia’s accident and for setting new safety standards. So no– I’m not disappointed by our “fake” shuttle. I’m proud that the Enterprise will be displayed here in my city and look forward to the day when I can hop of the subway and go visit her at the Intrepid Museum!
And that day is quickly approaching. This morning the Enterprise finally arrived at JFK airport riding atop a modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The aircraft performed a low fly-by of Manhattan flying “over the Hudson River, looping back down around the Tappan Zee Bridge all the way to the Statue of Liberty, and then circled back towards Queens before making its descent into Kennedy airport.” [La Times] In June she will be brought over the Intrepid by sea and then lifted onto the aircraft carrier’s deck for display in a temporary pavilion. A more permanent climate controlled hanger is in the works.
Welcome Home Enterprise!!