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After the space shuttle program ends, NASA hopes to sell the three slightly used remaining orbiters to educational institutions, science museums or other organizations who could publicly display them. Over a year ago, the space agency put out a request for those interested to submit proposals for owning a shuttle and said the cost would be about $42 million, which would include “safeing” an orbiter, preparing it for display and ferrying it to a U.S. destination airport. Today, however—perhaps in response to the current economic downturn — NASA has slashed the price to just $28.8 million.
The agency will now absorb the costs of safeing, will only charge for display preparation and ferrying costs.
In the original “Request for Information” back in December 2008, NASA said they were proposing the idea of selling the shuttles and wanted to “gauge the level and scope of interest of US organizations in acquiring the two other orbiters for public display once NASA’s programmatic requirements for the assets have been satisfied.”
But in this new update, NASA says they have revised the costs, and perhaps can deliver the shuttles six months earlier than previously estimated. Hmm. Sounds like a year-end clearance sale.
Only US institutions or citizens are eligible to submit proposals. Likely, only two of the shuttles will be sold, with the third expected to remain in government hands, possibly on display in Washington, DC. “NASA advised Congress that it would begin discussions with the Smithsonian Institution regarding accession of a flown orbiter to the national collection,” the agency said in the 2008 document.
Previously, NASA has donated historically important space hardware for free. Saturn rockets, lunar modules and other artifacts from the Apollo era are on display at various locations including the Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, in Washington DC, and the US Space and Rocket Center, in Alabama.
If you could own a shuttle, which would you choose: Atlantis, Discovery or Endeavour?