Enterprise Strapped atop 747 and Delights Dulles Airport Flyers


Space Shuttle Enterprise has been strapped atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) that will soon fly NASA’s path finding orbiter from Dulles Airport to her new and final home in the Big Apple – and to the delight of Dulles Airport flyers and visitors she’s all primed at a spot offering a fantastic public glimpse of the historic last flight ever of NASA’s 1st space shuttle vehicle.

Have you ever dreamed of seeing the magnificent sight of a NASA space shuttle on top of a 747 Jumbo Jet up close with your own eyes ?

Imagine this view on take off !
Space Shuttle Enterprise mounted atop NASA 747 Carrier Jet at Dulles Airport - Commercial Jets Fly By. Credit: Ken Kremer

Well, right now anyone can get that superb glance of the mated duo quite simply from one of the upper level parking decks at Dulles Airport. And you don’t need a press pass, plane ticket, intrusive TSA pat down or a secret service security clearance.

And because of inclement weather, you will have a few extras days to catch history in the making of a sight that will soon evaporate into the ether of time. Only a Stak Trek era holodeck with bring it back.

After setting up to photograph Enterprise from the parking deck, I was joined within minutes by more than a dozen enthusiastic folks and kids !

NASA has postponed the planned Monday, April 23, departure of Enterprise from Dulles for New York City and touchdown at JFK Airport because of expected bad weather at both ends of the Washington to New York itinerary.

Universe Today has been told that NASA is now aiming for a Wednesday departure, weather permitting.

See Enterprise and Discovery nose to nose, here

A whirlwind of Flyers buzz by Enterprise at Dulles Airport prior to NYC departure. Credit: Ken Kremer

Right now and continuing over the next few days, supremely lucky passengers seated aboard arriving and departing jets at Dulles are enjoying a truly stupendous bird’s-eye view of the winged NASA orbiter that most aerospace fans can only dream of. Just be sure to sit on the correct side on the plane.

Check out the photos herein taken from the Dulles Daily Parking Garages taken by myself and fellow space photographer Brent Houston with invaluable assistance from space photographer Walter Scriptunis II.

In a first-of-its-kind “Shuttle Shuffle”, shuttles Enterprise and Discovery swapped spots at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Chantilly, Va.

Enterprise was first towed out of the Smithsonian’s museum display hanger in the early morning. The pair of shuttles then met for a historic nose to nose rendezvous – lasting just 4 hours. Finally, Space Shuttle Discovery was hauled inside to the prestigious spot formerly occupied by Enterprise.

Space Shuttle Enterprise sits on top of NASA 747 Carrier Jet at Dulles Airport. A pair of cranes was used to hoist Enterprise onto the back of the 747. Credit: Brent Houston

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

Enterprise is named in honor of the fictional Starship of galactic exploration from the immensly popular “Star Trek” science fiction television series of the 1960’s.

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

After landing at JFK Airport, Enterprise will be moved to a barge for a seagoing journey to her permanent new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in Manhattan.

Read more about Enterprise in Ken’s earlier story here and watch for more articles

Discovery & Enterprise – Historic Nose to Nose Shuttle Image


Two NASA Space Shuttles – Enterprise and Discovery – sit nose to nose in a historic, once in a lifetime meet up at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Annex in Virginia on April 19, 2012 for the official transfer of ownership from NASA to the Smithsonian.

Space Shuttle Discovery was the first orbiter retired from NASA’s fleet of three space flying shuttles. It completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles.

Discovery was ferried to the museum on April 17 after arriving atop a 747 Jumbo jet and a series of triumphant fly arounds of the US Capitol region.

Discovery takes the place of Enterprise. NASA says Discovery will commemorate past achievements in space and serve to educate and inspire future generations of explorers at the Smithsonian center.

Discovery is now open for public viewing.

Enterprise is being flown to New York City on April 23.
Photo gallery to follow.

Discovery Enters Eternal Smithsonian Home as Historic Relic


Space Shuttle Discovery, the longest serving and most flown spaceship in human history, entered her eternal home today, Thursday, April 19, at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Annex in Virginia.

Discovery thereby assumed her new status as a museum relic and monument to the promise and glorious dreams of space exploration, inspiring future generations of explorers to reach far beyond their grasp and accomplish the unthinkable. That’s what space and science are all about.

The space shuttle program and all three of NASA’s winged spaceships were forcibly retired by politicians at the conclusion of the final shuttle mission, STS-135, in July 2011 which left America with no means to launch our own astronauts into space and to the International Space Station.

Shuttle astronauts march with Discovery being towed from Dulles to the Smithsonian’s Udvar Hazy Center on April 19, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

Discovery officially became the property of the Smithsonian Museum when NASA Administrator Charles Bolden signed the title of ownership over from NASA to the world renowned museum at a public ceremony held today at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

“Today, while we look back at Discovery’s amazing legacy, I also want to look forward to what she and the shuttle fleet helped to make possible,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “As NASA transfers the shuttle orbiters to museums across the country, we are embarked on an exciting new space exploration journey. Relying on American ingenuity and know-how, NASA is partnering with private industry to provide crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station, while developing the most powerful rocket ever built to take the nation farther than ever before into the solar system.”

National Air and Space Museum Director, General John “Jack” Dailey said, “Discovery has distinguished itself as the champion of America’s shuttle fleet. In its new home, it will shine as an American icon, educating and inspiring people of all ages for generations to come. The Museum is committed to teaching and inspiring youngsters, so that they will climb the ladder of academic success and choose professions that will help America be competitive and successful in the world of tomorrow.”

Bolden and Dailey signed the transfer documents in front of the huge crowd who came to celebrate Discovery’s arrival.

Shuttle astronauts march with Discovery being towed from Dulles to the Smithsonian’s Udvar Hazy Center on April 19, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

The official handover ceremony was witnessed by a prestigious gathering of some three dozen astronauts including more than a dozen men and women who served as Commanders of Space Shuttle Discovery and Senator and Astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth 50 years ago in 1962.

Glenn flew to space for the 2nd time aboard Discovery as a payload specialist in 1998 at the age of 77. He is the oldest person to fly in space.

Shuttle astronauts march with Discovery being towed to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center and official Welcome ceremony on April 19, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

And the general public showed their enthusiastic support for NASA and space exploration by attending in the thousands and staying all day for the dozens of activity stations, presentations and displays organized by NASA and the Smithsonian and its donors.

Glenn made clear his disagreement with the end of NASA’s shuttle program.

Discovery arrives at her final resting place in the Smithsonian on April 19, 2012. Credit: Ken Kremer

To make way for Discovery, Space Shuttle Enterprise was first towed out a huge rear door of the museum early this morning. Discovery and Enterprise then met nose to nose as the dramatic backdrop for the official welcoming ceremony.

Late this afternoon, Discovery was towed to her final resting place into the museum to the exact spot formerly held by Enterprise, which had been on display at the Virginia facility since 2003.

Altogether, Discovery flew 39 missions and spent a full year (365 days) in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles during a space flight career spanning 27 years.

Discovery flew its maiden voyage on Aug. 30, 1984 and blasted off on her final voyage on Feb. 24, 2011. The STS-133 mission was the final flight for the illustrious orbiter which landed at the Kennedy Space Center on March 9, 2012.

Discovery deployed the iconic Hubble Space Telescope to orbit, one of the premier science instruments built by humankind. Discovery delivered many other science payloads to orbit and also to explore the solar system, including the Ulysses solar probe.

The winged spaceship was NASA’s fleet leading orbiter and played a significant role in building the International Space Station and visiting the Russian Mir Space Station.

Space Shuttle Enterprise Unveiled 35 Years Ago to Star Trek Fanfare


‘Enterprise’, the first of NASA’s Space Shuttle orbiters to be assembled, was unveiled 35 Years ago on Sept. 17, 1976 to the soaring theme song and fanfare of the immortal science fiction television series – ‘Star Trek’. Members of the original cast (photo above) were on hand for the celebratory rollout at the Rockwell International manufacturing plant in Palmdale, California.

Today, the Enterprise is housed as the centerpiece at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum (NASM) Udvar-Hazy Annex in Chantilly, Virginia.

Check out these webcams for live views of shuttle Enterprise at NASM from the front and aft.

Space Shuttle Enterprise on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Annex in Chantilly, Virginia

NASA originally selected ‘Constitution’ as the orbiter’s name – in honor of the U.S. Constitution’s Bicentennial . That was until avid fans of ‘Star Trek’ mounted a successful letter writing campaign urging the White House to select the name ‘Enterprise’ – in honor of the popular TV shows starship of exploration. The rest is history.

Many scientists and space enthusiasts found inspiration from Star Trek and were motivated to become professional researchers by the groundbreaking science fiction show.

Space Shuttle Enterprise on display as the centerpiece at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Annex in Chantilly, Virginia. Credit: NASA

Enterprise was a prototype orbiter, designated as OV-101, and not built for spaceflight because it lacked the three space shuttle main engines necessary for launch and the thermal protection systems required for reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Enterprise did however play a very key role in preparing NASA’s other shuttles for eventual spaceflight. The orbiter was tested in free flight when it was released from a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for a series of five critical approach and landing tests in 1977.I was fortunate to see Enterprise back in 1977 on top of a 747 during a cross country stop near the Johnson Space Center.

Enterprise in free flight during approach and landing test in 1977

In 1979 Enterprise was mated to an External Tank and a pair of Solid Rocket Boosters for several weeks of fit checks and procedural test practice in launch configuration at Launch Complex 39 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

These efforts helped pave the way for the first ever flight of a space shuttle by her sister orbiter ‘Columbia’ on the STS-1 mission by John Young and Bob Crippen. Columbia blasted off on April 12, 1981 on a gutsy 54 hour test flight.

Enterprise in free flight during approach and landing test in 1977

In 1984, the Enterprise was ferried to Vandenberg Air Force Base for similar pad configuration checks at Space Launch Complex- 6 (SLC-6) for what was then planned to be the shuttle’s west coast launch site. All California launches were cancelled following the destruction of Space Shuttle Challanger in Jan 1986.

After three decades of flight, the Space Shuttle Era came to a historic end with the majestic predawn touchdown of Space Shuttle Atlantis on Jul 21, 2011. The STS-135 mission was the Grand Finale of NASA’s three decade long Shuttle program.

Following the retirement of all three remaining shuttle orbiters, Enterprise will soon be moved to her new permanent home at the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum in New York City to make way for NASA’s new gift of Space Shuttle Discovery.

First Appearance of Enterprise
Space shuttle Enterprise made its first appearance mated to supportive propellant containers/boosters cluster, as it was rolled from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center en route to the launch pad, some 3.5 miles away, on May 1, 1979. Enterprise underwent several weeks of fit and function checks on the pad in preparation for STS-1, on which its sister craft Columbia took astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into space for a 54-hour test mission. Credit: NASA
First Appearance of Enterprise
Space Shuttle Enterprise at Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6 ) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, on February 1, 1985. Credit: Tech. Sgt. Bill Thompson/USAF

Read Ken’s continuing features here about Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis
Send Ken your pictures of Enterprise to publish at Universe Today.