A NASA space shuttle prototype and high-fidelity shuttle replica will make some big moves in New York and Houston on Sunday, and residents in both cities have a chance to spot the winged spacecraft — one by sea and the other by land.
In New York City, NASA's space shuttle Enterprise will be visible from some of the city's beaches and coast when it takes a barge from Jamaica Bay to the New York Harbor. The prototype shuttle, which never flew in space but was used in pivotal aerodynamic tests, is destined to go on public display at Manhattan's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. On Saturday, a crane hoisted the shuttle onto its barge for the upcoming sea ride.
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While New Yorkers will get to see Enterprise sailing on a barge, the sight of a space shuttle on the water is one some Houston residents have already seen. The space shuttle replica Explorer arrived at a dock in Houston's Clear Lake on Friday, and on Sunday the shuttle will parade its way from the lake to Space Center Houston, a visitor's center for NASA's Johnson Space Center. NASA's Texas facility serves as the home of the agency's astronaut corps and its mission control center for the International Space Station.
Here's how to see the shuttles in New York City and Houston (Note: All times are dependent on weather and can change with local conditions):
Space shuttle in NYC
For New Yorkers, Enterprise will begin its barge trip at 7:45 a.m. ET, when the tugboat pulling the ship leaves John F. Kennedy International Airport for the New York Harbor. Enterprise arrived at JFK on April 27 atop a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet — NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft —and has been awaiting delivery to the Intrepid museum ever since. [Shuttle Enterprise's Voyage to NYC (Photos)]
After shipping out from JFK, Enterprise will make its way toward New York Harbor by traveling along the shore of Queens and Brooklyn. The planned route will bring Enterprise by the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge at 3:30 p.m. ET, slip by Coney Island at 4:19 p.m. and then pass under the Verrazano Bridge at 5:34 p.m. before pulling into a temporary dock in New Jersey's Port Elizabeth.
This is only the first leg of Enterprise's sea trip to the Intrepid. On Tuesday, the shuttle will finish the journey by leaving Port Elizabeth at 9:15 a.m. ET, passing the Statue of Liberty at 9:50 a.m., floating up the Hudson River by the World Trade Center's Freedom Tower at 10:40 a.m. and arriving at the Intrepid museum at about 11:30 a.m. ET.
The Intrepid museum is built on the retired World War II aircraft carrier. Enterprise will be temporarily displayed on the Intrepid's deck until its final display is complete. The shuttle prototype was previously displayed at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., but was replaced in April by NASA's veteran orbiter Discovery.
A Houston Shuttlebration
While Enterprise makes its way through New York Harbor Sunday, a different kind of shuttle will parade through part of Houston.
Houston's space shuttle replica, formerly called "Explorer," will take an early-morning trip from its dock at Clear Lake to the Space Center Houston by way of the area's NASA Parkway and NASA 1 Bypass. The trip begins at 5 a.m. CT and ends at the center 9 a.m. CT.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT, Space Center Houston officials will host a free welcome celebration for the shuttle replica in the center's parking lot. Viewing opportunities of the shuttle mockup, NASA space exploration exhibits and other activities are planned.
The space shuttle replica was previously on display in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the welcome center for the nearby Kennedy Space Center spaceport that served as the homeport for NASA's space shuttle fleet for 30 years.
With the retirement of NASA's shuttle program in 2011, the space agency is sending its flown shuttles to museums for public display. The space shuttle Atlantis, NASA's second-oldest orbiter, is replacing the Explorer replica at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, much as Discovery replaced Enterprise at the Smithsonian.
Meanwhile, NASA's youngest shuttle, Endeavour, is being prepared for its cross-country trip to Los Angeles, where it will be delivered to the California Science Center for public display.
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