NASA hands out second-hand shuttles
Orbiters' final homes announced
NASA administrator Charles Bolden yesterday announced just where the four remaining space shuttles will find a final home, as the agency celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first orbiter launch on 12 April, 1981*.
The details are:
- Atlantis – Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
- Discovery – The Udvar-Hazy Center at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum (Chantilly, Virginia).
- Endeavour – The California Science Center (Los Angeles).
- Enterprise (currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum) – Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (New York).
Bolden said: "We want to thank all of the locations that expressed an interest in one of these national treasures. This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind. In the end, these choices provide the greatest number of people with the best opportunity to share in the history and accomplishments of NASA's remarkable Space Shuttle Program. These facilities we've chosen have a noteworthy legacy of preserving space artifacts and providing outstanding access to US and international visitors."
Enterprise (pictured) was the first shuttle built, used for atmospheric flight and ground testing. Discovery retired on 9 March this year, at the end of its 39th mission. Endeavour's swansong mission is slated to blast off on 29 April, and NASA has a planned final trip for Atlantis to the ISS pencilled in for 28 June.
NASA is also handing out hundreds of shuttle bits and pieces. Visitors to the the Museum of Flight in Seattle will enjoy a full fuselage trainer, while a nose cap assembly and crew compartment trainer will make its way to National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Furthermore, schools and universities who "want to share technology and a piece of space history with their students" by getting their hands on a shuttle heat tile are invited to make their pitch here.
NASA has more on the hand-out here. ®
* Columbia, carrying commander John Young and pilot Robert Crippen.
Snap! I was thinking of Concorde too
Two great technological innovations both lost to humanity because of worries over their costs or safety. If humans had worried so much over their safety in our history, we'd still be hunting and gathering, in fact, we might still be gathering, because hunting's dangerous.
Seriously, the shuttle was here for 30 years operationally and near 40 years as a design. Are we supposed to believe that it was impossible during those decades to use technological advances to come up with a decent evolution of the concept and a fitting replacement for it? Instead we now go back to the figurative stone age of space of creating an artificial asteroid, plopping atop a big firework, firing it into space and then allowing it to fall back to earth so we can pick it up again when it hits the ocean. High technology indeed.
Concorde was a similar loss of progress, we had this beautiful aircraft for nearly 40 years from start to finish, and yet thanks to cost cutting, environmental worries and 'safety' concerns we never bothered to build a better supersonic airliner.
Worries over costs, worries over the environment, worries over safety. We're worrying ourselves backwards here. We've become so timid that the possible threat of potential future consequences that can't even be quantified will prevent us exploring many potentially incredible advances in technology that would benefit every man, woman and child on the planet. But, just in case something goes wrong, we're gonna just let it go for now, because we don't want to screw up. So much for the human spirit.
But what about Drax's shuttles? Where will they go?
I've read both the Rogers Commision report and the CAIB report which are both fascinating in their own rights. They're obviously also extremely grim in parts.
Whether or not the tape was destroyed, in the interests of decency and respect for those who lost their lives (and the loved ones they left behind), don't you think it's reasonable that we don't have any more information?
Would you like to see footage of these guys realising what is upon them.
Are you one of the rubber-necked twits that causes further danger on the motorways by slowing down to have a good gawp?
It is the pinnacle of human endeavour to reach for the stars. Every time a crew boards a spaceship, they understand the hightened risk and in spite of that, they dare to go. Every shuttle flight includes some debris impact on take-off and yet still they go.
Hats off to them