Image: Conceptual rendering of space shuttle Enterprise
Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Conceptual rendering of space shuttle Enterprise as it will be displayed on the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in the summer of 2012.
By
updated 3/3/2012 5:01:38 PM ET 2012-03-03T22:01:38

NASA's space shuttle Enterprise, which never flew in space but did pave the way for the United States' historic 30-year shuttle program, will arrive in New York City on April 23, local space museum officials announced.

The prototype orbiter's arrival in the Big Apple will start its journey to a new display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, a converted World War II aircraft carrier-turned-museum complex.

Enterprise, which since 2003 has been on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, will be flown atop NASA's shuttle carrier aircraft, a Boeing 747, from Dulles Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

  1. Space news from NBCNews.com
    1. KARE
      Teen's space mission fueled by social media

      Science editor Alan Boyle's blog: "Astronaut Abby" is at the controls of a social-media machine that is launching the 15-year-old from Minnesota to Kazakhstan this month for the liftoff of the International Space Station's next crew.

    2. Buzz Aldrin's vision for journey to Mars
    3. Giant black hole may be cooking up meals
    4. Watch a 'ring of fire' solar eclipse online

Weather permitting, the ferry flight will come less than a week after NASA's most-flown shuttle, Discovery, arrives at the Udvar-Hazy Center to take Enterprise's place within the Smithsonian's collection.

"We are immensely excited about Enterprise's landing at JFK, and are readying the Intrepid for her arrival," Susan Marenoff-Zausner, museum president, stated. "Introducing Enterprise to New York is a landmark occasion."

"[Its touchdown] marks the beginning of Enterprise's next mission, which is to inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and researchers and serve as a reminder that anything is possible," Marenoff-Zausner said. [ Photos: A Space Shuttle Called 'Enterprise' ]

Air, sea and space
Enterprise's final flight to New York will be the first time it has been in the air since it was flown to the Smithsonian in 1985. For the past two years, NASA shuttle technicians have inspected and prepared the orbiter to make sure it was ready for the trip from Washington, D.C., to New York City.

The flight will mark a reunion with NASA 905, the modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft, which first flew Enterprise for a series of atmospheric approach and landing tests in the late 1970s. The tests proved the reusable winged space shuttles could return to Earth as a glider.

Enterprise will stay about two months at the airport before being loaded onto a barge and shipped to the Intrepid. On its way down the Hudson River, it will pass by New York landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and the site of the World Trade Center.

"When the Enterprise touches down at JFK Airport, it will signify the first step of its final journey to educate and inspire millions of people around the world about the groundbreaking work of the NASA space program," said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). "Once it lands next month, the Enterprise will immediately become an iconic and must-see destination in New York."

All decked out
Once at the Intrepid, Enterprise will be lifted off the barge by crane and placed onto the aircraft carrier's flight deck where it'll be on exhibit to the public starting this summer.

To protect the orbiter from the elements, the Intrepid will erect a temporary, climate-controlled steel and fabric tent that will cover Enterprise. According to the museum, the pavilion will feature "innovative elements in an exciting and immersive experience for visitors."

The flight deck display will give visitors the chance to see Enterprise until a permanent exhibition hall can be built. The Intrepid is advancing on its plans for a new facility to be located across the street from the aircraft carrier to showcase the shuttle and enhance the museum's space related exhibits and educational displays.

The proposed $85 million facility is planned to reside on what is now an empty lot owned by the state.

NASA awarded space shuttle Enterprise to the Intrepid in April 2011 when it also selected the display sites for its three space-flown orbiters. In addition to giving Discovery to the Smithsonian, the agency assigned Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles and retained Atlantis for its own visitor complex at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA signed over ownership of Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum last November. The museum held a ceremony celebrating the title transfer the following month with state and space agency officials present.

"The arrival of Enterprise is a monumental occasion for all of us," said Intrepid's co-chairmen, Charles de Gunzburg and Richard Santulli, in a statement. "Not only can we marvel at her greatness firsthand, but she will enrich the city of New York, its inhabitants, and millions of visitors from around the world."

Follow collectSPACE on Facebook and Twitter @ collectSPACE and editor Robert Pearlman @ robertpearlman. Copyright 2011 collectSPACE.com. All rights reserved.

© 2013 Space.com. All rights reserved. More from Space.com.

Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

loading photos...
  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

    The International Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm moves toward Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus autonomous cargo craft as it approaches the station for a Jan. 12 delivery. The mountains below are the southwestern Alps. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Accidental art

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show? At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images we're used to seeing from the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's a genuine Hubble frame that was released on Jan. 27. Hubble's team suspects that the telescope's Fine Guidance System locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in a remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. (NASA / ESA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Supersonic test flight

    A camera looking back over Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background during a test flight of the rocket plane on Jan. 10. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. The test was aimed at setting the stage for honest-to-goodness flights into outer space later this year, and eventual commercial space tours.

    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

    This image provided by NASA shows a satellite view of smoke from the Colby Fire, taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft as it passed over Southern California on Jan. 16. The fire burned more than 1,863 acres and forced the evacuation of 3,700 people. (NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments