NASA head Charles F. Bolden Jr. announced the new, permanent homes as the Space Shuttle retirement nears this summer. Some 21 cities competed for the honor of housing the four remaining orbiters of the Space Transportation System program. In New York City, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will get Space Shuttle Enterprise, which never flew in space serving instead to perform glide tests. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum near Washington, DC in Virginia will get the Space Shuttle Discovery, the oldest space orbiter of the fleet. The newest Space Shuttle Endeavour will be housed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Finally, the Space Shuttle Atlantis, used often for deploying military satellites, will reside at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The competition was heated as communities wanting a shuttle had to prove they can pay the $28.8 million dollars to relocate and display the shuttles. Since the Enterprise never actually flew in space, the Intrepid Museum is getting a discount. NASA′s announcement came today, which is both the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin′s First man in Space flight, as well as the 30th anniversary of the first flight into space of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Columbia was lost during reentry as heat caused by missing protective tiles destroyed the shuttle on February 1, 2003.
Other venues who lost out on the competition include the Air and Space Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, as well as the Johnson Manned Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas. Considerable efforts by former NASA personnel, along with the surviving family members of Columbia and Space Shuttle Challenger were undertaken for getting one of the orbiters at Johnson. Other cities in the running were Seattle, Chicago and Tulsa. A spokesperson for the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum said that winning a shuttle could result in an extra $106 million dollars per year in visitor traffic.
With the Space Shuttle retirement looming after 30 years of service, costing some $200 Billion dollars, NASA chief Charles F. Bolden Jr. announced today the final winners of storing and displaying the space orbiters. Space Shuttles Enterprise, Endeavour, Discovery and Atlantis will be on display at museums in Los Angeles, New York City, the Smithsonian national Air and Space Museum in Virginia and at Cape Canaveral, Florida at the Kennedy Space Center. The announcement came as a blow to the other 17 museums and communities who bid to get a space shuttle. Two more shuttle missions are scheduled, with one on April 29 of Space Shuttle Endeavour to be commanded by Captain Mark Kelly, husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Space Shuttle Atlantis is set to make its final flight on June 28.