Space Shuttle Enterprise Arrives At Intrepid Museum In NY
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com
The second of four NASA space shuttles arrived at its new home Wednesday aboard the flight deck of a World War II aircraft carrier on New York’s Hudson River where it will spend its retirement with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
The space shuttle Enterprise, which rode on a barge from Jersey City, NJ to Intrepid, was chauffeured by a convoy of vessels including a police boat, and a yellow taxi boat as it sailed up the river passing several landmarks. Once Enterprise arrived at its destination, it was hoisted by crane onto the floating museum amongst cheers and applause from a crowd of spectators who turned up for the historic event.
Among the spectators were area residents, tourists, office workers who took breaks to watch the events unfold, and even Thomas Hoffler, a 69-year-old homeless man, who told Karen Matthews of the Associated Press that he has “never seen a space shuttle, and I’m looking at one… I’m spellbound.”
Silence filled the audience as the shuttle was lifted from the barge 230 feet into the air by crane. Everyone stood taciturn, waiting and watching as ground workers and the crane operator meticulously worked to put Enterprise in place.
“It inspires people to see what human ingenuity can achieve,” 35-year-old British tourist Kirsty Rushen told Reuters reporter Mathew Murphy.
The Enterprise was originally scheduled to be hoisted atop Intrepid on Tuesday, but inclement weather delayed preparations.
The Enterprise, which has never flown in space, has still had quite a historic journey. It made its first test flight in 1977, after being released in midair from a Boeing 747, after which it glided safely back to earth. It performed several subsequent gliding and landing tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California prior to the first shuttle flight to space in 1981.
Enterprise was originally to be named Constitution in honor of the bicentennial of the US Constitution. But the White House was convinced by thousands of Star trek fans to name it after the fictional spaceship in the Star Trek TV series from the 60s.
In April, the Enterprise flew over New York, piggy-backed on a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Since that flight, Enterprise has been stored under a protective tent at JFK International Airport. The shuttle was lifted onto a barge on Saturday in preparations for its journey up the Hudson to its new home.
Officials at the Intrepid Museum expect the Enterprise to be a major attraction for years to come.
NASA’s space shuttle Discovery was the first of the shuttles to find its new home. It was flown in April to Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Both Endeavour and Atlantis are still being housed at Kennedy Space Center awaiting their final placements. Endeavour, which replaced the destroyed Challenger shuttle, will be flown to California Science Center in Los Angeles in September. Atlantis will be transported by road to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in November.