April 28, 2012
Space Shuttle Enterprise Makes Final Journey To New York
For the second time this month, one of the venerable, retired NASA space shuttles embarked on a final journey, as Enterprise spent Friday being ferried by a modified Boeing 747 on a grand tour around a major US city before ultimately arriving at its final resting place.
According to reports published by CBSNews.com, Enterprise completed a low-altitude flight over the Hudson River on Friday. Its flight took it past such historic landmarks as the Statue of Liberty and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum before finally landing at the John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Enterprise, which was a test vehicle that never actually saw action on an official NASA mission, will be transported to the Intrepid Museum in June, and the public will be allowed to see it beginning in the middle of July, said Meghan Barr of the Associated Press (AP).
Last week, Discovery, another vehicle used as part of the three-decade old shuttle program, which was terminated by NASA, was flown past a series of Washington D.C. landmarks before arriving at Dulles Airport en route to its new home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex in Virginia.
In a statement released Friday, NASA said that Enterprise will be demated from the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) which transported it and will be placed on a barge. That barge will then be carried by tugboat to the Intrepid, where it will be lifted by crane onto the floating museum's flight deck. Work on a permanent home for the exhibit is still said to be ongoing at the museum.
Intrepid president Susan Marenoff-Zausner said that the shuttle will be "the largest and most significant space artifact in the entire Northeast“¦ This is an institution in American history. This tested so many different things that without it, travel into space would never have happened."
She said and that the team plants to build a pavilion to house it, and that while the initial plan was to wait a few years before allowing the public to see Enterprise, plans were altered because the museum staff wanted the general public "to be able to experience this immediately“¦ When somebody comes to visit, they will not only see the shuttle itself, but will have an engaging and interactive experience inside the pavilion."
As was the case with Discovery's final flight, Enterprise's last journey brought back many memories and evoked strong emotions amongst those in attendance on Friday.
"It made me feel empowered. I'm going to start crying," Jennifer Patton, a tourist from Canton, Ohio who was in the crowd at the Intrepid as the 747 carrying the shuttle flew overhead, told Barr. "I just feel like to have a plane fly that low over the Hudson, right past New York City, and to have everyone cheering and excited about it, shows that we don't have fear, that we have a sense of 'This is ours.'"