Shuttle Enterprise Transits NYC Skyline on a Barge

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On Sunday, June 3, throngs of New Yorkers, Jerseyites and more witnessed one of those ultra rare astronomical events – The Space Shuttle Enterprise’s Transit of the NYC Skyline !

NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise completed the first leg of her final voyage – a seagoing journey by barge from John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport across New York Harbor and to her final resting place at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side.

To prepare for the watery journey, Enterprise was hoisted by crane onto the Weeks Marine barge on Saturday, June 2. On Sunday, the barge with Enterprise firmly in place was moved by tugboat out of JFK and along the shores of Queens and Brooklyn. It passed by the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge at about 3:30 p.m. and Coney Island at about 4:19 p.m.

NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise floats on a barge in front of the NYC Skyline on June 3, 2012. Pleasure craft sail nearby in New York Harbor. Credit: Ken Kremer

I watched Enterprise’s voyage with a big crowd of excited onlookers from a breathtaking north facing lookout on Staten Island towards southern Manhattan’s indelible skyscrapers.

Enterprise on a barge passes under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge as cars speed by on the bridge roadways above on June 3, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

At last the orbiter approached shortly after 5 p.m. along with a small flotilla of guard and guide ships. She passed gracefully under the gorgeous and lengthy span of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and past the humongous pylons, right on time at around 5:30 p.m. – as enormous Cruise Ships swarming with thousands of agog passengers steamed by the comparatively tiny space shuttle. Sailboats and pleasure craft also sailed close by for exquisite views.

Enterprise put on a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, enjoyed by the gathered multitudes all along the route and she sailed past Manhattan’s shore and skyscrapers and on towards the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Ultimately, Enterprise docked late in the evening at Port Elizabeth, Bayonne, New Jersey – at a different location than had been announced – with a direct view of the Statue of Liberty and the southern tip of the gorgeous Manhattan skyline, home to the Freedom Tower currently in the final stages of construction and now the tallest building in New York City.

Enterprise on a barge passes under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge as huge Cruise ship steams by with passengers agog on June 3, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

Enterprise suffered some minor damage to the wing tip during the initial stages of the journey – see separate report.

Inclement NYC weather has postponed the second part of the two part barge journey to the Intrepid museum from Tuesday tentatively to Wednesday, June 6. Enterprise will again journey past the Statue of Liberty and then up the Hudson River to her new home at the Intrepid, where she will be hoisted by crane onto the flight deck of the aircraft carrier – when the weather safely allows.

Enterprise approaches the Statue of Liberty on June 3, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

Millions of gawkers watched as Enterprise arrived in New York on April 27, loaded on the back of NASA’s specially modified 747 Jumbo Jet for her very last flight from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport.

Read more about the April 27 flyover arrival of Enterprise in NYC, in my article here:

The Enterprise was a prototype shuttle and the first of NASA’s Space Shuttles orbiters to be built and was used in landmark approach and landing tests that paved the way for the entire Shuttle fleet and the first shuttle launch in 1981 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Enterprise docked in Bayonne, New Jersey on June 3, 2012 in view of the Statue of Liberty. Inclement weather postpones final barge trip to the Intrepid until tentatively June 6.
Credit: Ken Kremer

Enterprise is named after the fictional starship in the world renowned and beloved TV science fiction series – “Star Trek”.

The Intrepid museum will open Enterprise to public viewing starting in mid- July.

Ken Kremer

Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise in 20 Years

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In Star Trek lore, the first Constitution Class Starship Enterprise will be built by the year 2245. But today, an engineer has proposed — and outlined in meticulous detail – building a full-sized, ion-powered version of the Enterprise complete with 1G of gravity on board, and says it could be done with current technology, within 20 years. “We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it,” writes the curator of the Build The Enterprise website, who goes by the name of BTE Dan.

This “Gen1” Enterprise could get to Mars in ninety days, to the Moon in three, and “could hop from planet to planet dropping off robotic probes of all sorts en masse – rovers, special-built planes, and satellites.”

Size comparisons of buildings to the proposed USS Enterprise. Credit: BuildTheEnterprise.org

Complete with conceptual designs, ship specs, a funding schedule, and almost every other imaginable detail, the BTE website was launched just this week and covers almost every aspect of how the project could be done. This Enterprise would be built entirely in space, have a rotating gravity section inside of the saucer, and be similar in size with the same look as the USS Enterprise that we know from Star Trek.

“It ends up that this ship configuration is quite functional,” writes BTE Dan, even though his design moves a few parts around for better performance with today’s technology. This version of the Enterprise would be three things in one: a spaceship, a space station, and a spaceport. A thousand people can be on board at once – either as crew members or as adventurous visitors.

While the ship will not travel at warp speed, with an ion propulsion engine powered by a 1.5GW nuclear reactor, it can travel at a constant acceleration so that the ship can easily get to key points of interest in our solar system. Three additional nuclear reactors would create all of the electricity needed for operation of the ship.

The saucer section would be a .3 mile (536 meter) diameter rotating, magnetically-suspended gravity wheel that would create 1G of gravity.

The first assignments for the Enterprise would have the ship serving as a space station and space port, but then go on to missions to the Moon, Mars, Venus, various asteroids and even Europa, where the ships’ laser would be used not for combat but for cutting through the moon’s icy crust to enable a probe to descend to the ocean below.

Of course, like all space ships today, the big “if” for such an ambitious effort would be getting Congress to provide NASA the funding to do a huge 20-year project. But BTE Dan has that all worked out, and between tax increases and spreading out budget cuts to areas like defense, health and human services, housing and urban development, education and energy, the cuts to areas of discretionary spending are not large, and the tax increases could be small. “These changes to spending and taxes will not sink the republic,” says the website. “In fact, these will barely be noticed. It’s amazing that a program as fantastic as the building a fleet of USS Enterprise spaceships can be done with so little impact.”

“The only obstacles to us doing it are the limitations we place on our collective imagination,” BTE Dan adds, and his proposal says that NASA will still receive funding for the science, astronomy and robotic missions it currently undertakes.

A detailed schedule of building the Enterprise. Credit: BuildTheEnterprise.org

But he proposes not just one Enterprise-class ship, but multiple ships, one of which can be built every 33 years – once per generation – giving three new ships per century. “Each will be more advanced than the prior one. Older ships can be continually upgraded over several generations until they are eventually decommissioned.”

BTE Dan, who did not respond to emails, lists himself as a systems engineer and electrical engineer who has worked at a Fortune 500 company for the past 30 years.

The website includes a blog, a forum and a Q&A section, where BTE Dan answers the question, “What if someone can prove that building the Gen1 Enterprise is beyond our technological reach?”

Answer: “If someone can convince me that it is not technically possible (ignoring political and funding issues), then I will state on the BuildTheEnterprise site that I have been found to be wrong. In that case, building the first Enterprise will have to wait for, say, another half century. But I don’t think that anyone will be able to convince me it can’t be done. My position is that we can – and should – immediately start working on it.”

For the complete space nerd experience, check out Build The Enterprise.

Hat tip to Rand Simberg.

Enterprise Arrives at the Big Apple

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Icons of America are captured together in a fantastic photo by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls, taken on the morning of April 27, 2012 from Jersey City, NJ. The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building… and Enterprise, the first space shuttle, seen as it was ferried toward its eventual new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

After several days of delays due to weather, the SCA with mounted Enterprise took off from Washington Dulles International Airport this morning.

Watch a video of Enterprise flying over New York here.

Enterprise was the first shuttle built for NASA. It was used to conduct test flights in the atmosphere and never flew into space, yet the data gathered from its experimental flights were integral to the development of the shuttle program.

Originally housed at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Enterprise will be demated from the SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) and placed on a barge that will travel on a 2-day trip up the Hudson to the Intrepid Museum on June 4.

Enterprise departs Dulles on Friday, April 27. (NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Mark Avino)
Enterprise over Manhattan, its future home seen below. (Click for description.) NASA/Robert Markowitz.

Enterprise will open for display to the public on July 19.

See more details on the Intrepid Museum’s website.