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Shuttle Enterprise's future home now visualized
BY JUSTIN RAY
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: December 14, 2011


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With the ownership title now in hand, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum has unveiled artwork depicting how the space shuttle Enterprise will be displayed within a protective bubble on the aircraft carrier's flight deck starting next summer.


This illustration by the Museum shows Enterprise aboard the Intrepid.
 
Nearly one million people visit the Intrepid each year, but museum officials expect the addition of Enterprise will boost the attendance to two million annually. It's that high-level of traffic and making the spacecraft visible to large numbers of people that helped make the popular museum a winner in the shuttle sweepstakes.

"Let there be no bones about it, the Intrepid now officially owns a space shuttle. And that's going to stay for a very long time to come," Sen. Charles Schumer said in Sunday's title-signing ceremony.

"Space shuttle Enterprise played a key role in advancing technology for the benefit of humanity and she will continue in her education and inspiration mission here on the Intrepid," said Lori Garver, NASA deputy administrator.

NASA's prototype orbiter that performed landing tests in the 1970s will be moved to New York City in April, leaving the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C., where it had been an exhibit since that facility opened in December 2003.

The relocation is part of NASA's delivery of the space shuttles to the winning museums across the country that sought an orbiter after the program's retirement earlier this year.


Sen. Charles Schumer and NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver shake hands after they signed the transfer of title and ownership of Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum during a ceremony on Sunday. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
 
The process begins in mid-April when Discovery, the most-flown shuttle with 39 flights to its credit, leaves her homeport at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop the modified 747 carrier aircraft for the trek up the eastern seaboard to Washington's Dulles International Airport.

Once there, technicians will use a mobile crane system to offload Discovery for handover to the Smithsonian. Enterprise then gets hoisted atop the same aircraft to depart Washington and head for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, according to a NASA spokesman.

Enterprise will enter temporary storage at the airport before taking a summertime cruise aboard a barge to reach the Intrepid museum complex located at Pier 86 on the Hudson River.

Intrepid officials are designing a protective covering to shield Enterprise from the elements while it sits aboard the historic military aircraft carrier.

Discovery is headed inside the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center where Enterprise had been parked. National Air and Space Museum took dibs on the most-flown of the surviving orbiters, having orbited the planet 5,830 times and traveled 148 million miles.

Enterprise was used in 1977 for approach and landing test flights at Edwards Air Force Base in California, making five free-flights with two alternating crews to demonstrate a shuttle's ability to perform a powerless touchdown on a runway.

The craft was utilized in space shuttle vehicle vibration tests with an attached external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama and for launch pad fit checks at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

In 1985, NASA transferred Enterprise to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. The orbiter was parked in a storage hangar at Dulles International Airport until late 2003 when the museum's new annex was completed.

Also in 2003, several of Enterprise's wing-leading edge panels were removed while engineers conducted foam impact testing during the Columbia accident investigation.

Enterprise, built in 1976 as the first shuttle, was only a test vehicle. It was never outfitted to actually fly in space.


The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
 
NASA formally signed over the ownership title of Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Nov. 22. A ceremonial event was held at the museum last Sunday with Sen. Schumer, Garver and others.

"The U.S.S. Intrepid had a rich history with NASA's mission, and Enterprise -- the pathfinder for the space shuttle program -- belongs in this historic setting. Enterprise, along with the rest of our shuttle fleet, is a national treasure and it will help inspire the next generation of explorers as we begin our next chapter of space exploration," said NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden.

The other two orbiters -- Atlantis and Endeavour -- are slated for display at the Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex and the California Science Center in Los Angeles, respectively.

Venture back in history to relive Enterprise's moments
Spaceflight Now+Plus viewers can travel back to the late 1970s and mid 1980s right now and watch fun footage of space shuttle Enterprise, NASA's prototype orbiter, during its landing tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California, assembly and pad checks at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, then demonstrations for the West Coast launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: "THE SPACE SHUTTLE: TRANSPORT FOR TOMORROW" PLAY
VIDEO: ENTERPRISE TAKES PIGGYBACK TEST-RIDE ATOP 747 PLAY
VIDEO: THE SHUTTLE'S FIRST APPROACH AND LANDING TEST PLAY
VIDEO: HOISTING ENTERPRISE IN VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ENTERPRISE ROLLS TO LAUNCH PAD 39A PLAY
VIDEO: ENTERPRISE FINISHES LAUNCH PAD FIT-CHECKS PLAY
VIDEO: PACKING UP ENTERPRISE TO LEAVE FLORIDA PLAY
VIDEO: TESTING AT VANDENBERG'S SHUTTLE PAD PLAY
VIDEO: THE SATURN 5 AND ENTERPRISE PLAY
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