Where the NASA space shuttles are going

The Discovery, which completed its final flight last month, is headed to the Smithsonian, for display at the spacious Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport. The Endeavour, currently on the launching pad for its final space trip, will go to the California Science Center. The Atlantis, scheduled for its last mission in June, will go to the Kennedy visitor complex.

With the Discovery headed to the Smithsonian, the museum will no longer have need for the Enterprise, the shuttle that has been on display there since 2004. The Enterprise, which was used for early glide tests but was never sent into orbit, will now go the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle had already begun construction on a new wing to house one of the shuttles and they were obviously very confident. They seem happy with their consolation prize though:

…A full-fuselage space shuttle trainer.

The trainer is a shuttle orbiter minus the wings. It was used for astronaut training during the 30-year history of the space shuttle program and will stay in use until the shuttle program retires later this year. It’s the only one of its kind and was built at the Johnson Space Center in Texas in the 1970s.

It seems a little silly to ship the Discovery to the Smithsonian and then ship the Enterprise to New York (instead of just sending the Discovery to New York and saving some effort) but all in all it’s nice that we’ll have some options for seeing space shuttles around the US. Anyone thinking of a visit to one of these places?

Filed Under: Sci Fi, fantasy, & space tourism

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  1. Rhonda Peterson says:

    Hey James… wonderful article today.

    I personally watched a shuttle launch, last year. Which I wish I had done sooner. Many years ago…before 9-11, we had tickets to see a launch, up close. We were on vacation, and having fun in the Keys(Florida), and decided to “just do it a different time”. The biggest mistake we ever made. After that, 9-11 happened, and you have never been able to get close again, since. Now it had to be viewed from a couple miles away…outside of vicinity of the Cape Canaveral Complex.

    Anyway, my point is… is was a spectacular site, even that far off. Even from miles away, you could hear it, loudly and the you could feel the ground vibrate. It was quite amazing.

    It is sad to see an end to this era. Though I am sure, even though it will be handled by private companies now…progress will still be made.

    It is wonderful that one of these is going to the Smithsonian in DC. And it is especially wonderful that they are all staying in the USA.

    So tell me, have you ever heard of the “Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum? Me neither. I have definately heard of the Smithsonian though. I visited them, as a child…many years ago. Which I can imagine is the reason why it was chosen to house one of them. There are many Smithsonian Museums in DC. If I am not mistaken, there are 5 of them. Only one of them is about Air and Space. They are famous world wide… the other is not. I live in Michigan and and never heard of it. I would imagine, it is popular with the people of NY…but other then that, I don’t think it is too renowned.

    If you find yourself back in the States, in Florida or DC, I hope you get a chance to take a tour threw NASA and the different Smithsonians. They are all very interesting.


  2. James Trotta says:

    I went to the Intrepid Museum to see the aircraft carrier when I was young. But yeah it probably is better known in New York than anywhere else.

    My point with the Smithsonian stuff is that they already have a space shuttle. They are shipping their old shuttle to New York and getting a new shuttle in DC. It just seems simpler to send the one shuttle to New York and leave the one in DC where it is. But I guess the Smithsonian wanted one that has more historical significance.

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