Note: Story updated below.
How is it possible? Houston’s innovative proposal to park a used space shuttle in the middle of a large triangular garage stuck onto the side of that space-themed amusement center near the JSC (shown above, all decked out) lost out to far less compelling plans put forward by museums in Florida, New York, and California. NASA administrator Charles Bolden announced earlier today that the 3 remaining unparked and unexploded shuttles will be moved next year to permanent homes in the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the California Science Center in L.A.’s Exposition Park. What sort of dull designs did these institutions put together?
At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Orsino, the space shuttle Atlantis will be suspended in front of a projected image of a rotating Earth. The shuttle’s robot arm will dangle an empty space suit. The exhibit will be part of a $100 million display in a new 64,000-sq.-ft. facility:
There’s not enough room to add a shuttle on board the Intrepid, the former aircraft carrier-turned-transportation musem floating in the Hudson River off New York City. So the museum there will be building a separate glass hangar on Pier 86, where the now Concorde currently hangs out. According to the proposal drawings, the Enterprise will hang out inside, its payload bay open:
The California Science Center didn’t bother to send in a design showing where it’ll house the Endeavour once it returns from its upcoming final mission. It’ll go somewhere or other around this building:
Maybe the museum will build a new structure to house the Endeavour somewhere nearby — when they get around to it.
An obvious advantage of the Space Center Houston design over those of the selected institutions: If the shuttle ever had to come out of retirement — say, to blow up an asteroid or something — it looks like it wouldn’t have been too difficult just to wheel the thing out of that big garage door and onto NASA Pkwy. Also losing out on a permanent visit from a used shuttle: the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History in Bryan, Texas, a spacecraft rest home personally endorsed and lobbied for by former President George H.W. Bush.
Update, 5 pm: And you may want to sit down for this one. Houston might need that big garage after all: Eric Berger notes NASA has awarded the Johnson Space Center the flight deck pilot and commander seats from an unspecified shuttle. Get your asses in here!
- NASA Gives Space Shuttles to Smithsonian and Museums in Calif., Florida and NYC [Space.com]
- Photo Gallery: How to display a retired space shuttle [Collect Space]
- There’s No Space Like Home. Welcome Home, Atlantis! [Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex]
- About the Mission [Bring the Shuttle Home]
- NASA’s Next Mission: Finding Homes For Shuttles [NPR]