The Lessons We Learned from Space Shuttle Enterprise

On this day 36 years ago, two astronauts aboard the space shuttle Enterprise took the ship out for its initial test flight. It landed on the back of a 747 before undertaking a series of free flights starting in June that year.

Enterprise was designed as a test ship only, and was never intended to fly in space. Instead, it was used for a series of flying and landing approach tests to see how well the shuttle maneuvered during the landing. The astronauts first flew a series of “captive” flights aboard the 747, then cut the test shuttle loose for five free flights over several weeks.

What lessons were learned and what design changes did NASA implement from the Enterprise test program? And how did Enterprise help shape the future of the space shuttle program? A few clues emerge from the program’s final evaluation report, which was released in February 1978.

– Stopping a hydrazine leak. Hydrazine was used as a fuel for the maneuvering thrusters on the space shuttle, but the chemical is toxic and shouldn’t be exposed to humans. During the first captive flight, an auxiliary power unit was turned on about 18 minutes in. That was part of the plan, but the next part wasn’t: NASA observed fuel was being used much faster than expected in the next 25 minutes. It turned out that a bellows seal in the fuel pump had failed and caused “significant hydrazine leakage” in the shuttle’s aft bay.

Preventing brake trouble or ‘chattering’. The first indication of trouble came after the second free flight. The astronauts felt a “chattering” (low-frequency vibration) sensation during braking as they were slowing down on the runway. This 16-hertz vibration happened again during “hard” braking on Flight 3. In light of the vibration, the brake control was modified and the astronauts did not feel the vibrations on Flights 4 and 5.

– Minimizing computer vibration. Enterprise’s Computer 2 fell out of sync with its fellow computers as the shuttle separated from the 747 on Flight 1, causing several computer errors. (The other three redundant computers effectively voted the computer off the island, to use Survivor parlance, and the flight carried on.) Ground tests of similar units revealed that the solder keeping the computer attached to the shuttle cracked when subjected to a slight vibration for a long period of time. NASA modified the attachments and the computers were just fine on Flight 2.

– Astronaut training. The astronauts experienced several control problems during Enterprise’s fifth free landing, when they deployed the speed brake to compensate for a landing that was a little faster than planned. As the pilot tried to control the shuttle’s sink rate, the elevons (a control surface for pitch and roll) were elevated more than usual, causing the shuttle to gently head back into the air and roll to the right before landing again. The astronauts could not see any unusual changes in pitch because the nose of the shuttle was not visible from the cockpit. Further, the center of gravity for the pitch changes was so close to the cockpit that the astronauts could not feel the sensation.  “The pilot was unaware of any problem other than that he was landing long and trying to get the vehicle on the ground near the desired touchdown spot,” the NASA report stated. Several recommendations came out of this incident, such as more simulations of landings, modifying the flight control system, and stating that speed brakes should not be used just before landing.

Bottom line, though, was NASA said the approach and landing tests accomplished all objectives. The authors of the report called for modifications to these problems and a few others, but said as soon as these situations were addressed the shuttle was performing well enough for further flights. You can read the whole report here.

Enterprise is now on display at the Intrepid Air & Space Museum in New York, but is temporarily closed to the public as the shuttle undergoes repairs from damage incurred during Hurricane Sandy.

Shuttle Enterprise Lands on the Deck of Intrepid in Manhattan

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NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise magnificently completed her final mission by making a historic landing on the deck of a retired aircraft carrier berthed in Manhattan- the Intrepid – as the first and only space shuttle to ever do so on a once-in-history spectacle befitting the Big Apple.

But instead of a piloted landing by air, Enterprise arrived afloat, atop a seagoing barge and was then hoisted and gently lowered for touch down on top of the Intrepid’s flight deck by a humongous seagoing crane accompanying the shuttle on a second barge at 4 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 6.

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is the permanent new home of the Enterprise, NASA’s prototype shuttle – built in 1976 – that was used for a series of critical atmospheric approach and landing tests in the late 1970’s and that paved the way for building all the five shuttle orbiters that followed and the first launch by the Columbia in April 1981.

Enterprise transits the NYC skyline and the Empire State Building and arrives by barge at the Intrepid on June 6, 2012. Enterprise was then hoisted onto the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Credit: Ken Kremer

Enterprise embarked on a long and winding road to reach the Intrepid which I witnessed at points along the way. First she flew piggyback on top of NASA’s specially modified 747 Jumbo Jet from Dulles International Airport for a triumphant fly over tour of the New York Metropolitan region on April 27 before touching down at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport.

Enterprise had been on public display at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Annex in Virginia since 2003.

Then the shuttle took a two day cruise on June 3 and June 6, towed by a tugboat; departing from JFK on June 3 and voyaging through New York Harbor to the Statue of Liberty before making an intermediate stop at a port in Bayonne, New Jersey to switch to another larger barge. Along the way the orbiter suffered some minor damage to the right wing tip when wind gusts caused her to scrape against a railroad bridge.

After a 24 hour postponement due to poor weather, a repaired shuttle Enterprise at last put out to sea again on Wednesday morning, June 6, at about 9:45 a.m. for the very last time on the final leg of her thrilling final voyage.

A giant Weeks Marine crane hoist Enterprise off the barge and onto the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on June 6, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

Enterprise took one last beauty ride past the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero and the Freedom Tower before sailing North up the Hudson River and past the Empire State Building on Manhattan’s West Side; enjoyed by throngs of onlookers and space enthusiasts lining the shores of New York and New Jersey.

She arrived at the Intrepid, located at Pier 86 at 46th Street and 12th Avenue, at about 1 p.m. accompanied by a flotillia of police and water spraying fire boats, ferries , sailboats and pleasure craft.

The giant lifting crane was maneuvered into position in between the Intrepid and Enterprise.

Over the next three hours, technicians carefully attached a yellow steel harness sling to the 150,000 pound orbiter at four points, two in the front and two in the rear. This was the same sling used to lift Enterprise onto and off the back of the 747 jet.

The 240 foot crane used to hoist Enterprise is the same one used to lift the US Airways jet piloted by hero captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger out of the Hudson after an emergency water landing near the same exact spot in January 2009 – where all the passengers and crew on board miraculously survived.

Sailing by Statue of Liberty on June 6, 2012. The space shuttle Enterprise, atop a barge, passes the Statue of Liberty in New York on its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum where it will be permanently displayed. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The dramatic pluck of the 75 ton Enterprise off the Weeks Marine barge started around 3:45 p.m. as the winds were gently gusting. Enterprise was raised some 75 feet and rotated nearly 180 degrees so her nose faced directly towards the Hudson River and the beautiful city and cliffs of Weehauken, in Hudson County, New Jersey, where I was watching and photographing from. Enterprise came to rest with wheels down around 4:02 p.m., pretty much exactly on time.

Finally the yellow sling was detached around 6 p.m. and Enterprise was dramatically exposed on the deck of the Intrepid in a beautiful sight for all to see.

But that gorgeous deck view didn’t last long because the museum quickly covered Enterprise with an inflatable pavilion to protect the delicate and precious orbiter from the weather and flying debris – and gawkers looking for free.

To see the Enterprise in all her glory now, you’ll have to pay $22 for admission to the museum and an extra $6 for the shuttle – or check my deck top photo below.

Dramatic rare view of exposed Enterprise at rest on the flight deck of the Intrepid - hoisting sling removed after June 6 landing. Soon thereafter the shuttle was covered with a temporary inflatable pavilion for protection - and no open view. Nose faces exactly to Weehauken, New Jersey. Credit: Ken Kremer

The museum is hastily constructing a temporary, climate controlled “Space Shuttle Pavilion” to house Enterprise. She will be open for public display starting on July 19.

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

Ken Kremer

Weekly Space Hangout – June 7, 2012

In this week’s episode of the Weekly Space Hangout, Universe Today’s Fraser Cain is joined by Alan Boyle from MSNBC and Amy Shira Teitel from Vintage Space.

They discussed:

  • The 2012 Transit of Venus
  • The space shuttle Enterprise’s final journey to a museum.
  • NASA’s new plans for commercializing space
  • A quick review of the new movie Prometheus

We record the Weekly Space Hangout live every Thursday at 10 am Pacific/ 1 pm Eastern. Watch us record the show live on Google+ every week. The show is also broadcast live over on Cosmoquest.

Repaired Space Shuttle Enterprise to set Sail on Final Voyage

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Enterprise, post boo-boo and postponed a day by rainy weather, should arrive at the Intrepid today !

The final leg of the final voyage of Space Shuttle Enterprise is due to conclude on Wednesday, June 6 with a journey by barge up the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side to her permanent new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

And it can’t come soon enough. As might be expected, Barge rides for Space Shuttles can be both visually stunning and downright perilous.

And for the initial seagoing leg of Enterprise’s journey on Sunday, June 3, it was a mixture of both – mostly thrilling (as I can attest) plus a few bad moments

During Sunday’s transit of Enterprise across the New York skyline, the shuttle suffered some minor damage to the wing tip (see photo above) soon after she set sail.

According to collectSpace.com, Enterprise grazed a New York railroad bridge when wind gusts caused the shuttle loaded aboard the Weeks Marine barge to veer off course.

“Mother nature did not smile on us. Just as the barge entered the railroad bridge, the wind caught it and pushed the right wing into the bridge abutment. Fortunately, the damage seems to be cosmetic, limited to the foam that covered the wingtip. No structure or mechanisms appear to have been damaged,” wrote Dennis Jenkins who was aboard the barge with Enterprise.

Winds gusts caused Space Shuttle Enterprise to grazed a bridge and suffer minor damage to a wingtip on June 3, during the initial stages of her seagoing journey on a Weeks marine barge to her new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Credit: Ken Kremer

The remainder of the voyage went off without a hitch and was enjoyed by throngs of onlookers including myself.

I caught some shots of the damage late in the day as the crew from Weeks Marine was towing Enterprise into port for the night.
Workers have already repaired Enterprise, the Intrepid said in a statement.

On Wednesday morning, Enterprise is due to set sail atop a barge from Bayonne, New Jersey from where she docked on Sunday, June 3 on the initial leg of her seagoing journey to her permanent new home.

Enterprise is scheduled to depart from Bayonne at 10:15 am and then make her way North passing the Statue of Liberty at approximately 10:52 am and Ground Zero at about 11:30 am says the Intrepid. She will reach the Museum at around 12:30 pm and be hoisted onto the flight deck later in the day – all of which is weather permitting.

On July 19, Enterprise will be opened to public viewing

Ken Kremer

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

Shuttle Replica Departs Kennedy for Ocean Voyage to Houston on a Barge – Enterprise is Next

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A high fidelity replica of a NASA Space Shuttle orbiter has set off today, May 24, on an ocean going voyage by barge for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This trip by the Shuttle replica gives a taste of what’s to come for the upcoming barge journey by Space Shuttle Enterprise around the southern tip of Manhattan in early June.

The replica model formerly named “Explorer” departed early this morning from the turn basin at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the shadow of the iconic vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where the real Space Shuttles and Apollo Moon rockets were assembled for launch.

The space shuttle replica first moved through the inter-costal waterway and then set sail out from Port Canaveral and into the Atlantic Ocean this afternoon for about a week’s voyage that will take her southwards around the coastline of the Florida peninsula and then into the Gulf of Mexico on a heading for Houston, Texas.

Space Shuttle replica “Explorer” floats on a barge through Port Canaveral and past cruise ships and pleasure boats on the way from KSC to JSC in Houston. Credit: Kirby Corporation

The shuttle model was towed onto the barge at KSC Tuesday afternoon (May 23) by Beyel Bros. Crane and Rigging who are responsible for loading it. Beyel workers then welded the shuttle model to the deck of the barge.

None of the real space shuttles had ever been located at this position at KSC before near the VAB and waterways and provided truly amazing and unique photographic opportunities.

Space Shuttle replica “Explorer” towed onto a barge at the Kennedy Space Center has set sail for her permanent new museum display home at the visitor complex at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

The full scale replica – with the moniker Explorer removed – is being transported to her permanent new home at Space Center Houston, the visitor complex at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas.

It will arrive in Houston around June 1, depending on the weather, where a free three day public arrival welcome “Shuttlebration Weekend” is planned.

Space Shuttle replica “Explorer” on a barge at the Kennedy Space Center near the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (left) where the real shuttles were processed for space missions. Explorer is sailing to her new home at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Credit: Ken Kremer

The Explorer had been on display alongside a gantry like tower at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) since 1993 and was enjoyed by millions of tourists since then along with full scale replica versions of the shuttle’s twin solid rocket boosters and huge external fuel tank.

The Explorer model was built was built in Apopka, Fla., by Guard Lee using schematics and blueprints provided by NASA. It’s the next best thing to having a real space shuttle. The model’s length is 122.7 feet, its height is 54 feet, and its wingspan is 78 feet.

Having been up close and inside all three of NASA’s real space shuttles, I can say that the Explorer mockup is an excellent representation of the genuine shuttle orbiters and gives a realistic sense of the airframe, heat shield tiles, cockpit and cavernous cargo bay. At KSCVC, visitors could see directly into the cargo bay housing a satellite. The Michelin wheels were genuine and had actually flown in space.

The Explorer was moved out from Kennedy’s Visitor Center on a 144 wheeled trailer in December 2011 by Beyel Bros to make way for Space Shuttle Atlantis. Atlantis will be towed to the KSC Visitor Complex in November 2012. The Visitor Complex is constructing a humongous permanent new display hall for Atlantis which is slated to open in 2013.

The Space Shuttle program was forcibly shutdown for lack of money at the direction of politicians in Washington DC after the final flight, STS-135, lifted off in July 2011, leaving the US with no capability to transport astronauts or cargo to the International Space Station since then.

The two other remaining space flown shuttles were assigned to museum locations near Washington, DC and Los Angeles. Discovery has already departed in April 2012, flying atop a 747 Jumbo Jet to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Annex outside Washington, DC.

The Endeavour will take the last cross country airplane trip of the shuttle program in September to her permanent new resting place at the California Science Museum. The Shuttle prototype orbiter Enterprise will be displayed at the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum in New York City starting in mid-July 2012.

The Explorer is a consolation prize of sorts for the Johnson Space Center (JSC), which lost out on the nationwide bidding to display the three now retired NASA Space Shuttles.

JSC was home to the training facilities for the Space Shuttle crews and home to the NASA astronauts who flew aboard the five shuttle orbiters for the 30 year life of the Space Shuttle program. Many folks feel JSC was shortchanged in the shuttle museum home selections process.

On Sunday, June 3, the replica shuttle will arrive at Space Center Houston where it eventually will become part of a unique display telling the story of the Space Shuttle’s achievements and the nationwide team that made them possible. Further details about Space Center Houston – here

Ken Kremer

Timelapse: Shuttle Enterprise Removed from 747 Aircraft

Yesterday, space shuttle Enterprise was removed from NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at JKF Airport in New York. You can watch an entire night’s activities in a little over a minute, and even watch the Moon rise over the action. Enterprise will be placed on a barge that will bring Enterprise via tugboat up the Hudson River to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. This will happen in June, and then the shuttle will be lifted by crane and placed on the flight deck of the Intrepid, where it will be on exhibit to the public starting this summer in a temporary climate-controlled pavilion. The museum is still working on their permanent display home for Enterprise.
Continue reading “Timelapse: Shuttle Enterprise Removed from 747 Aircraft”

Millions Mesmerized by Shuttle Enterprise over Freedom’s Beacon in New York

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Millions upon Millions of Humans have passed through Freedoms’s Beacon at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the New York Metropolitan area in hope of a better life for themselves and their families.

Today, on Friday April 27, Freedom’s Beacon mesmerized millions of the World’s Citizens anew – and in an unforgettable way – as NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise proudly flew over the Statue of Liberty in the waning moments of her triumphant final flight, to the cheers of throngs of people from across the globe.

Enterprise flew several times over and about historic sites and landmarks around the Big Apple while piggybacked snugly atop NASA’s modified 747 Jumbo Jet – formally known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) and designated as NASA 905.

I witnessed the Enterprise fly over from around the Statue of Liberty and Liberty State Park in New Jersey as she made several exciting passes over and around the New York- New Jersey- Connecticut tri state region, delighting in excess on 10 million avid spectators.

Spectators awed by Enterprise over Statue of Liberty. Credit: Ken Kremer

Enterprise voyaged as far north as the Tappan Zee Bridge, around the Hudson River and over nearby spots on Long Island and New Jersey. All in all traversing over millions of homes, buildings and businesses to everyone’s delight.

I heard many people express these sentiments to me and in local new reports: “I’ve never saw anything like this. It’s fantastic – two planes flying on top of one another. I never imagined anything like this and I’m so happy to see the Enterprise.”

And I met and listened to folks speaking dozens of languages – who made the special journey today to be with Lady Liberty and the Enterprise.

Enterprise soars above US Flag during NYC fly over on April 27, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

While many folks were well aware of the Enterprise’s impending flyover, through New York’s extensive media reporting – this region is my home turf – many others were caught totally unawares. Nevertheless they were all thrilled, especially the kids.

Some people even stopped on the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges, among others, pulled over to the side to get out of their vehicles and take in and enjoy the spectacular once- in-a-lifetime view and snap priceless photos.

Some out of town tourists even wondered if the Enterprise flyover was a “Daily Show” – somehow put on by the Intrepid, Air, Sea and Space Museum – which is the permanent new and final home to the only-of- its-kind prototype shuttle vehicle. No, they were informed. It’s just a one-time April 27 Big Apple Special. And it’s Free !

Space Shuttle Enterprise departed Dulles Airport mounted atop NASA’s 747 around 9:39 a.m. EDT and arrived in New York around 10:30 a.m. EDT. It was a cool and partly cloudy day in the 50’s and blustery with wind gusts around 40 MPH.

She finally touched down at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport at about 11:22 a.m. after I watched her take a last dazzling spin over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

Enterprise flies over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on April 27, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

The space shuttle is the most complex machine built by humanity, and stands as a powerful beacon to the future and what humans can accomplish if only we put our minds and efforts towards the task.

The Enterprise was the first of NASA’s Space Shuttles orbiters to be built and was used in landmark tests that paved the way for the entire Shuttle fleet and the first shuttle launch in 1981.

In June, the Enterprise will be placed on a barge and towed by tugboat to the Intrepid. She will be hoisted by crane onto the flight deck and open for display to the public in July 2012.

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

About 1500 VIP guests greeted the Enterprise after landing at JFK, including actor Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s “Mr. Spock.”

Spock (Nimoy) welcomed Enterprise to New York and pronounced his famous Vulcan greeting –

“This is a reunion for me. Thirty-five years ago, I met the Enterprise for the first time.”

“Live Long and Prosper !”

Enterprise “GO” for Big Apple Fly Over on April 27 – NYC Viewing Guide

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Unless the weather changes drastically, Space Shuttle Enterprise will depart Dulles International Airport and the D.C. area on her final ferry flight for her history making Big Arrival at the Big Apple on Friday morning, April 27 and a spectacular fly around of the New York City Metro area and towering Skyscrapers.

NASA managers have given the “GO” for takeoff of Enterprise early Friday morning. Enterprise is primed and mounted atop NASA 905 – the specially modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carriar Aircraft (SCA) that transports all the orbiters on cross country ferry trips; see my photo above.

In less than 24 hours, New York City will be the permanent new home to the Enterprise, NASA’s first shuttle vehicle.

From around 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Enterprise atop the SCA will fly at quite low altitudes over various landmarks and historic locations in the New York City metropolitan area, putting on a dramatic sky show for millions of residents and visitors in the local New York and New Jersey region.

The mated duo is expected to make one or more mind bending, not-to-be-missed low passes over the iconic Statue of Liberty, her new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Museum and other breathtaking locales throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and New York’s waterways, before landing at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport.

Space Shuttle Enterprise flew over New York City only once before of June 10, 1983 on a return flight from display at the Paris Air Show in France and a European tour of Germany, Italy and the UK. Richard Drew / AP

The public is invited to view the momentous Enterprise fly over atop the 747 from the flight deck of the Intrepid at Pier 86. The museum plans to open early.

Viewers can expect magnificent viewing opportunities inside New York City, from the ground level and up to the top of skyscrapers like the Empire State Building, as well as unparalleled Manhattan skyline views across the river from the New Jersey shoreline, stretching north and south along the Hudson River.

Depending on how far north the SCA flies, Enterprise might also be visible from nearby areas of Westchester and Rockland Counties and Connecticut.

The exact flyover route depends on weather and operational constraints and has not been released for security reasons.

The weather forecast is favorable with sunny and breezy conditions expected with temperatures around 50 degrees F. Winds gusts are the only potential hang up at this time. Dress warmly.

1500 VIP’s from New York will greet Enterprise after landing at JFK.

Enterprise will depart directly from Dulles for New York. Unlike the two hour long flyaround arrival of Space Shuttle Discovery to the D.C. area and Dulles on April 17, there will be no fly around of the DC area for this ferry flight of Enterprise.

Barely a week ago, Enterprise and Discovery swapped places at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C. following a nose to nose shuffle and meet up attended by a crowd of about 10,000 visitors.

Space Shuttle Enterprise and the SCA flew very briefly over New York City just once before in 1983 on a return trip from display at the Paris Air Show in France and an international tour of Germany, Italy, the UK and Canada.

You can catch beautiful view and photos of the takeoff of Enterprise from Dulles very easily from the upper levels of the Daily Parking garages. See my photo of Enterprise strapped to the SCA Jumbo Jet at Dulles herein and in this preview story.

Ken will be on hand for the history making Grand Entrance of the Enterprise over Manhattan’s skyline. Feel free to send me your Enterprise photos to post here at Universe Today.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance to see space history as a path finding NASA Space Shuttle – named after Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise – fly’s over the greatest city on Earth !

The Shuttle Enterprise rolled out in 1976 with the cast of Star Trek !
In 1976, NASA's space shuttle Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities and was greeted by NASA officials and cast members from the 'Star Trek' television series. From left to right they are: NASA Administrator Dr. James D. Fletcher; DeForest Kelley, who portrayed Dr. "Bones" McCoy on the series; George Takei (Mr. Sulu); James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott); Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura); Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock); series creator Gene Rodenberry; an unnamed NASA official; and, Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov). Credit: NASA

Enterprise Ferryflight to NYC tentatively set for April 27

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Unstable weather has temporarily grounded the last flight of Space Shuttle Enterprise for just a few more days.

Visitors to New York City – Prepare yourselves for a breathtaking view !

NASA is tentatively targeting Friday, April 27 as the date of the historic ferryflight of Enterprise from the Washington, DC area to the New York City metropolitan area, if the weather cooperates.

“Managers shifted the flight from Wednesday to Friday because of a large region of low pressure dominating the East Coast. The weather is predicted to be more favorable Friday,” NASA said in a statement today.

Enterprise is a full scale prototype space shuttle orbiter that carried out critical approach and landing tests in California in the late 1970’s, setting the stage for the first shuttle blast off in 1981.The orbiter is named after the famed “Starship” in the iconic TV series “Star Trek”.

Space Shuttle Enterprise is already piggybacked atop NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC and awaits the GO command to take off for New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

As I wrote earlier, visitors to Dulles Airport can get an exquisite view of Enterprise strapped aboard the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) from the upper levels of the Daily Parking garage. Go see it in these few extra days before it departs forever.

Space Shuttle Enterprise mounted atop NASA 747 Carrier Jet at Dulles Airport - Commercial Jets Fly By. The public can easily see NASA’s 1st orbiter bolted on top of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) from the upper levels of a Daily Parking Garage at Dulles Airport. On April 19, 2012, Enterprise was towed out of the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Chantilly, Va. and swapped for shuttle Discovery. Enterprise will be flown to New York City this week. Credit: Ken Kremer

Originally the ferry flight had been scheduled for Monday and then switched to Wednesday, April 25. But a powerful storm swept through the US East Coast over the weekend and continuing poor weather has further disrupted the flight plans.

NASA and the FAA are coordinating the flight which is expected to arrive and conduct a series of breathtaking low flyovers over and near various landmarks and historic sites in the New York City between 930 and 1130 a.m, including the Statue of Liberty and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum – her permanent final home and resting place. The exact route and timing depend on weather and operational constraints.

When the flyover is complete, the SCA will land at John F. Kennedy International Airport and more than 1500 dignitaries are expected to be on hand to welcome Enterprise to the Big Apple.

In the weeks following the arrival, Enterprise will be “demated” from the top of the 747 using a pair of heavy duty cranes and placed on a barge for a dramatic seagoing voyage and will be moved by tugboat up New York’s Hudson River to the Intrepid museum in June. The shuttle will be lifted and placed on the flight deck of the Intrepid, where it will be on exhibit to the public starting this summer in a temporary climate-controlled pavilion.

The Intrepid museum is constructing a permanent exhibit facility nearby to showcase Enterprise and the museum’s space-related exhibits and education curriculum.

Since 2003, Enterprise has been on public display at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Annex in Virginia.

Last week, Enterprise was replaced at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center by Space Shuttle Discovery in a prestigious welcome ceremony featuring Astronaut and Senator John Glenn, 1st American in Orbit.

Ken will be on hand for the history making Grand Arrival of a magnificent NASA Space Shuttle flying over the superlative Manhattan skyline. Feel free to send me your Enterprise photos to post at Universe Today.