Shuttle Enterprise comes home to New York
Buzzing the Big Apple
It's not every day NASA does a flyby for us, but the El Reg space desk pulled a few strings with the Obama Administration to have Space Shuttle Enterprise do her final flight into New York harbor and up the Hudson River and down again on a chilly and cloudy morning right over the head of the New York bureau.
Enterprise has been decommissioned to spend her pasture years on the USS Intrepid air and space museum in the Big Apple where the world can come visit her and marvel at something that was an engineering test for the machines that slipped the surly bonds of Earth.
Your intrepid reporter is no photographer, but went to my roof in the Inwood section of Manhattan, which is one of the highest points on the island, with the building superintendant and porter with some coffee, binocs, and cameras to make a party of the flyby. Enterprise and her modified Boeing 747 (presumably paid) escort and Talon T38 chase planes (always in the Shuttle entourage) made their way up the Hudson River, did a big U-turn on top of the Tappan Zee bridge, and headed back down the river to land at JFK International.
Looks a bit like an orca in immoral congress with a baleen whale, don't it?
Nice touch there with the TV antenna. When Enterprise did its approach and landing (ALT) test on February 18, 1977, we didn't even have cable out in Appalachia where I grew up to the northwest of New York City. But we were close enough to New York to get TV signals the old fashioned way, and I skipped school more than once to watch this and other Shuttle launches over the next six years.
Welcome home, Enterprise. But don't get too comfortable on that aircraft carrier. Me and the boys will be down sometime soon with the FTL drive and the shields for your real flight. ®
But it's just you...
... and not normal logic.
HINT: they want people to see it... amazing, huh?
Most populous city in the US? Yes.
Most densely populated city in the US? Yes.
4th most populous metropolitan area of the world? Yes.
With 800+ languages the most diverse city in the world? Yes.
Top travel destination of the world, with 50M+ visitors per year? Yes.
Are all these silly questions seriously here solely due to the fact that someone was literally incapable to grasp even the most basic point of putting something on display (eg hoping for the biggest audience)? Yes.
Jeez you must be a miserable nightmare to work with.
Just to cheer you up, it was intended to be a flight-ready shuttle but just not the first. They carried on designing and building the first one (Columbia) while the ALT tests were being conducted by Enterprise - a rather necessary step given the timelines. The design changed significantly enough during this period that it just wasn't cost effective to retro-fit Enterprise with these design changes. I sense you're feeling betrayed/conned by NASA back in the 70's - it wasn't some big secret, just an evolution of space flight design.
Congratulations New York - you got a rare piece of space flight history. Hopefully it'll slightly offset the miserable office workers who get irate about it.
The spaceship we cared about so much that we don't have them any more
Yup, and Congress is so intent on destroying any post-Shuttle launch capability that it's refusing to fund commercial flight that actually has flyable hardware, and instead sending pork to Boeing who have an assload of Powerpoints and one vaguely Apollo-shaped mockup.
Shuttle was nice, and I loved watching the launches (not so much the sonic booms at 3am) but it should have had at least a liquid reusable booster, and been replaced 15 years ago by something more advanced, using lessons learned. Now most of the folk that learned those lessons are now learning to say "would you like fries with that?"
However, Enterprise was useful as hell in the ALT drop tests. It showed more than a few bugs in the flight software amongst other things we learned. It's not a mockup.