July 19, 2012
Enterprise Officially On Display In New York
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The retired space shuttle Enterprise is officially on display at its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum's new Space Shuttle Pavilion in New York.
The 150,000 pound spacecraft is now encased in the center of an inflatable dome, and is available to be viewed by visitors from just a few feet away.
The shuttle made its way across Coney Island and underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as it headed towards its final destination back in April. It was placed on a barge at Kennedy Airport, where it had been since it flew from Washington to New York on April 23.
Enterprise had also been docked at Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, before being lifted onto its new home on the flight deck of the Intrepid.
The Enterprise was welcomed to the museum during an opening ceremony on Thursday by NASA administrator Charles Bolden and museum president Susan Marenoff-Zausner.
"This is an amazing, original space-related artifact, the prototype for all space shuttles, so it really adds an even deeper exploration of the American space program to the museum," Jessica Williams, Intrepid's curator of history, said in a speech.
The ceremony launched the museum's five-day space festival, which includes exhibits and educational demonstrations.
Enterprise was completed in 1976 and was NASA's first space shuttle. It never actually flew on a mission in outer space, but performed critical tests around the Earth's atmosphere.
It was the first spacecraft that was designed as a reusable spacecraft that was able to land safely, allowing NASA to conduct launches more frequently and help keep the Soviet Union from dominating space travel.
During tests, Enterprise would sit atop a 747 carrier aircraft to help it get off the ground, and once it reach an altitude high enough, it would separate from the flight and two pilots would glide the shuttle for several minutes before making a landing.
Space shuttle Discovery was flown to Washington D.C. last April, and is now open to the public for viewing at a headquarters of the National Air and Space Museum.
Space shuttle Endeavour is now on view at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, while space shuttle Atlantis is available at the Kennedy Space Center in Orland, Florida.
Enterprise was given its name as the result of a petition campaign led by fans of the "Star Trek" television show, which featured Starship Enterprise.
During the test craft's time in service, two space shuttles were destroyed, including space shuttle Challenger in 1986 and space shuttle Columbia in 2003.
"This is an amazing, original space-related artifact, the prototype for all space shuttles, so it really adds an even deeper exploration of the American space program to the museum," Williams said at the ceremony.