October 19, 2017

13.04.11: Here Be Shuttles!

The Orbiter that started it all; Enterprise during a drop test. (All photos courtesy of NASA).

The Space Shuttle program may be winding up, but you may soon have a chance to see one of these storied orbiters, in person. Yesterday, NASA officials announced the final resting places for the three remaining orbiters in the shuttle fleet; and the big winners are:

- Atlantis will go to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida;

- Endeavour will go to the Los Angeles California Science Center;

- Discovery will go to the National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly Virgina.

And that will leave the Space Shuttle orbiter Enterprise, which never flew into space, to be transferred from the Smithsonian to the New York City Sea, Air, & Space Museum.

  

Discovery in orbit…

A mock trainer, Shuttle Orbiter Pathfinder, currently resides at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Also, hundreds of other select pieces of shuttle hardware and memorabilia will be located to other institutions throughout the nation. The announcement coincided with the 30th anniversary of the launch of STS-1 and Space Shuttle Columbia back in 1981, and the 50thanniversary of manned spaceflight with Yuri Gargin’s first epochal launch aboard Vostok 1 in 1961. During that time, the fleet has experienced highs with the launch and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, the deployment of the Chandra and Compton observatories, and the completion of the International Space Station as well as lows with the tragic loss of the Columbia and Challenger spacecraft along with their gallant crews. As we near the end of the program, look for a personal retrospective on the Space Shuttle and these historic orbiters. (Remember, we launch a shuttle but land an orbiter!) it seems weird that we’ve been flying Space Shuttles for over half of our personal existence on this planet, and a generation has come of age knowing nothing but. Hopefully, a brave new launch vehicle will be well established and performing routine space flights by the next decadal anniversary in 2021!  

    

…Liftoff of Shuttle Atlantis!