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Flying the Space Shuttles to their New Homes

The now-retired space shuttle orbiters will soon be heading to their new museum homes. April 17, 2012 is the current date planned for a modified Boeing 747 to give a piggyback ride to shuttle Discovery to bring it from Kennedy Space Center to Washington Dulles International Airport, where it will then be towed to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located adjacent to the airport. Just how will this be done? The video above explains the procedure, and of course, this is not the first time a space shuttle has ridden atop the specially designed airplane. Every time a shuttle landed in Edwards Air Force Base in California (54 times) or New Mexico (once), it had to be transported back to Kennedy Space Center via an airplane.

If you are in the Washington DC area, there will be an arrival ceremony, currently planned for April 19. See this link from the more information.

The special airplane, NASA 905, will then be paired up with the test space shuttle, Enterprise, which has been at the Smithsonian, but is now heading to Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. The current date for that flight is April 23, but all the dates are dependent on the weather.

Later this year, probably September, the NASA 905 will bring shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles to the California Science Center. The flight path has not yet been determined, but for those living in the mid-section of the US, be on the lookout for more information of flyovers and places where the shuttle will be stopping during its final flight.

Shuttle Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in Florida.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • NoAstronomer April 9, 2012, 6:45 PM

    I wonder which airport they’ll flyEnterprise into to get her to the Intrpeid. Presumably Newark and then they’ll ferry her across the Hudson. That will make for an interesting spectacle. I may just have to make time to watch that.

    I have seen Enterprise before. On top of a 747 flying over Birmingham, UK, in the early 1980’s when I was in college. So it’ll be like having an old friend to visit.

    Mike.

    • Víctor F. Amaya G. April 10, 2012, 10:00 PM

      According to Intrepid’s Facebook page, Enterprise will be flown to JFK airport. Unfortunately, the landing won’t be an event open to the public.

    • Víctor F. Amaya G. April 10, 2012, 10:00 PM

      According to Intrepid’s Facebook page, Enterprise will be flown to JFK airport. Unfortunately, the landing won’t be an event open to the public.

  • LSAGuy April 10, 2012, 3:42 AM

    In 1983 I just happened to be in Wichita, KS one afternoon when the 747 / Space Shuttle combo came into McConnell AFB. They flew it a lap around the city to announce its arrival and in the time I was able to get over to Pawnee Ave and was first to park right under the glide slope to McConnell’s runway. When it came over at about 200 feet it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen fly. Sadly, I didn’t have a camera.

  • Shootist April 10, 2012, 5:13 AM

    I was born in the mid 50s, 40 miles west of Canaveral. I watched the Mercury 7, Gemini and Apollo lift off from the comfort of my back yard. When I was 8 I wanted to be just like John Glenn (thank god that didn’t happen). Anyway, a space geek from the start.

    Which makes this all the harder to say:

    Shuttle should never have been built. Damn Nixon, and his space truck, that hauled little, could barely make orbit with the fuel tank painted and was too fragile to launch more than once a year.

    Oh, and $2 billion a year whether it left the pad or not. Rubbish and good riddance. Maybe the Chinese will make better decisions than our stoopid politicians.

    • wherearetheflyingcars April 19, 2012, 6:04 PM

      You are entirely correct. However the ruination of our space program started with Kennedy wanting to beat the russians to the moon and hence Mercury thru Saturn.
      Remember the incredible X-15 that was way before Mercury and would have resulted
      in a craft far more advanced than the shuttle.

      Yes, stoopid politicians!

  • Colin Bain April 15, 2012, 10:05 AM

    NASA took Enterprise to the Paris Air show in the early 80’s and did a few fly-pasts of UK Airports on the flight back to Florida. One of them was Glasgow Airport, Scotland. I was at the airport to see it and I was listening on my air-band radio. I heard the Captain asked for directions to Fly over the Rockwell Plant in the local town of East Kilbride. (I understand Rockwell, manufactured the Shuttle and it was this Factories Anniversary) Now I don’t think it is normal for the Ground controller to give pilots directions, so I was not surprised when on the nightly news everyone was standing outside the plant with the TV crew. And yes they missed it by miles. Thank goodness they are better at navigating in space.

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