Skip to main content

The Space Shuttle Enterprise went on public display today at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.

And, as if on cue, the complaints about New York getting a space shuttle while Houston, home of NASA operations and training, did not, and all the concomitant politically-oriented accusations and conspiracy theories, rose like a chorus.

I live in New York so I'm obviously delighted to have Enterprise here, even though I've already seen her, twice, at the Smithsonian, where she was on display from 2004 until April of this year, when Discovery, the first of the flight vehicles to be retired, took her place in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. So maybe I am a little biased here. And I agree that it's a shame Houston will not be getting a genuine space shuttle orbiter for posterity. I just think this "controversy," if it really is one, is drastically overblown.

Enterprise was, perhaps appropriately, characterized as something of a "consolation prize" when, on April 12 of 2011, the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch, she was somewhat surprisingly awarded to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan. After all, the real prizes in the space shuttle sweepstakes were the three flight vehicles, the ones that actually flew in space, the ones with real rocket engines and real thermal shield tiles and payload bay doors that actually open. The ones that have been in orbit, that have docked with the International Space Station (which they helped build), that launched, repaired and upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope, that survived the heat of re-entry and glided to a landing more than 20 times each.

Of course, there were supposed to be four flight vehicles. Columbia (designated OV-102) was the first. Enterprise (OV-101), the prototype for Columbia that had been built as an atmospheric and ground test vehicle, was supposed to be the second, but NASA found that cost and logistical considerations made it more sensible to build out an existing structural test article, a bare airframe designated STA-099, than to dismantle and upgrade Enterprise, hence the second operational space shuttle became Challenger (OV-099) instead. Discovery (OV-103) and Atlantis (OV-104) followed, and by 1985 the fleet was complete. Meanwhile, Enterprise became an earthbound stand-in for her space-worthy sisters, fit-checking hardware on the ground, touring the country and the world for public display, and serving as an occasional "parts hulk" for the flight vehicles, until NASA had no further use for her and passed her on to the Smithsonian in 1985.

The following year, tragedy struck when Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds into its 10th (the shuttle program's 25th) flight, killing all seven astronauts on board. Although consideration was given to un-retiring and upgrading Enterprise, NASA decided once again that it would be cheaper, easier and faster to construct a brand new orbiter, later named Endeavour (OV-105), from existing structural components left over from the construction of Discovery and Atlantis. Enterprise therefore remained mothballed in the Smithsonian's storage hangar at Dulles International Airport for nearly two decades, as the Institution had no place to display her (the craft is much too large to display in the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall, let alone get it there through the streets of Washington, DC).

Tragedy struck again in 2003 when Columbia was lost during re-entry, and another seven astronauts lost their lives. Enterprise, still Columbia's nearest twin structurally, was brought out of mothballs to serve as a test bed for NASA's investigation into the cause of the accident. But there would be no replacement for Columbia. The space shuttle's days were numbered.

Later that year, the Udvar-Hazy Center was completed, finally giving the Smithsonian a place to display some of the larger pieces in its air and space collection, including Enterprise. The old prototype space shuttle was rolled into the empty hangar and restored in situ, finally going on public display when the McDonnell Space Hangar opened in 2004.

It's very likely that the Udvar-Hazy Center was designed and built with the knowledge and understanding that Enterprise was just a placeholder for one of the flight vehicles, such that one would be displayed there once the shuttle program inevitably ended. Although the museum staff were always coy about it, it was just too obvious; for one thing, the Smithsonian Institution has a right of first refusal on all NASA space-flown hardware. Apart from being constructed specifically to accommodate Enterprise, and being the only indoor museum facility in the country large enough to admit, let alone display, anything as large as a space shuttle, the Center is located on the grounds of Dulles International Airport, meaning an orbiter could be flown directly there on the 747-SCA and be easily and conveniently transferred from the jumbo jet to the museum without having to traverse any public streets (let alone take down any trees, streetlights, road signs, etc. in the process).

So, the Smithsonian was a foregone conclusion to receive one of the flight vehicles. It had the museum facility already in place, the transfer would be relatively easy, and it is, after all, the Smithsonian. Enterprise would obviously be displaced and go elsewhere. But the loss of Columbia in 2003 left only two more flight vehicles, one of which was certain to remain at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the shuttle fleet essentially lived for the entirety of its operational life, and where the vehicles themselves were being decommissioned -- thus saving the cost and logistics of a 747-SCA ferry flight and overland transport. As with the Smithsonian, even though nothing was ever official and NASA maintained that the competition would be open, there was probably no realistic chance that the KSC would not get an orbiter for display.

The Smithsonian got Discovery. KSC would keep Atlantis. The rest of the nation's museums that submitted bids would thus be competing for one flight vehicle, Endeavour, and the prototype Enterprise.

I remember thinking many, many years ago that it might be cool to bring Enterprise to the Intrepid once its place was taken by a "real" space shuttle at the Smithsonian. I imagined it being displayed on the pier, where the Concorde is now, as I didn't think the aircraft carrier's flight deck was either large or sturdy enough to hold a space shuttle, let alone that it could be displayed indoors on the carrier itself. Nonetheless I was surprised when the Intrepid put in a bid. I figured the remaining vehicles would probably go to Houston and to southern California, the latter being where the shuttles were built and where a number of shuttle missions landed, including the Approach and Landing Tests conducted with Enterprise in 1977. Yet to my surprise and delight, New York got the "consolation prize." Endeavour would go to Los Angeles, and Enterprise was coming to the Big Apple.

Houston, of course, is the home of NASA; it's where Mission Control is located, it's where the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts lived and trained, it was the first word spoken from the surface of the moon. Houston is synonymous with NASA and with the American space program. Its major league baseball team is called the Astros. Space Center Houston is a fantastic museum and tour facility. I've been there. There's no question that Houston would have been an appropriate place for a retired space shuttle orbiter to go on public display.

I'm not going to waste time on the absurd politically-oriented arguments and accusations that have been flying for the past 15 months about why Houston and Texas were snubbed in favor of New York by a federal government agency during a Democratic presidency. Anyone who wants to believe such things will do so no matter what I say.

NASA and its chief administrator, ex-astronaut Charles Bolden, made no secret of their desire to put the space shuttles on display where they would be seen by the most people. Our two largest population and tourism centers are New York and L.A. Since, as mentioned above, for all practical purposes one had to go to the Smithsonian and one had to stay in Florida, if one went to Houston then only one of America's two largest cities could get one. That's not to say that the other museums in other states didn't have a realistic chance of landing an orbiter, but New York and L.A. had the best chance of meeting this important criterion. L.A. made sense because of its proximity to Palmdale (where the shuttles were built) and to Edwards AFB. So NASA may have been faced with a choice of placing the final orbiter either in the city synonymous with the space program, or in the nation's largest metropolitan area.

I have no idea what the deliberations inside NASA were like. I'm sure that if the fleet had retired intact, with four flight vehicles plus Enterprise, then Houston would have gotten one. I'm sure it was a difficult choice. In the end, it seems the volume of foot traffic that New York could offer was too much to pass up, only slightly more important than the "connection" of the shuttle program to Houston. Quite simply, more people will see the shuttle at the Intrepid than would see it at Space Center Houston. The Intrepid already outdraws Space Center Houston, albeit not by much (roughly 900,000 to 750,000 visitors per year), and the Enterprise is expected to increase the Intrepid's attendance by a third.

That, I think, is the point I'm ultimately getting at. The Enterprise represents a major acquisition and a huge upgrade for the Intrepid Museum, which until today had very little authentic space hardware on display (indeed, the tiny Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island has more). With the addition of the Space Shuttle Pavilion, the facility can finally live up to its name as a world-class Sea, Air and Space Museum. Where else can you explore an aircraft carrier, a submarine, a Concorde, and a space shuttle, not to mention dozens of military aircraft, all in the same place?

Space Center Houston is already a world-class space museum. Far from being "ignored" or "forgotten," as some of the complainers would have us believe, Space Center Houston already has some exceptional pieces of authentic space hardware, including Mercury Faith 7, Gemini V and Apollo 17 spacecraft, trainers/mockups of Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, LEM and lunar rover, as well as two full-size shuttle mockups, and perhaps the single most awesome piece of space hardware ever built, a Saturn V rocket. The facility also offers tram tours of NASA facilities.

Enterprise would have been a fine addition to Space Center Houston, but it would not have been as significant an addition to that collection as it is to the Intrepid's. With or without Enterprise, Space Center Houston is and will remain a premier destination for space enthusiasts. What NASA has done is create, or attempt to create, two new ones, one in New York and one in Los Angeles.

Yes, the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Space Center are also extant premier space-geek destinations, which at first glance implies a double standard here, but the aforementioned logistical issues factor into those locations as well. I'm not suggesting this is simple or easy or the end of the discussion. My only point is that to hear and read some of the complaints, one would think that a space enthusiast visiting Houston would have nothing to see, no place to go, no way to appreciate the city's NASA legacy, and that Houston would have nothing to offer, because no authentic space shuttle orbiter will be exhibited there, or because the orbiters will be displayed in other cities. That simply isn't so.

The disappointment over Houston not getting a space shuttle is real, and is eminently understandable. The resentment of New York getting one, rather less so. One might have hoped that the sight of Enterprise flying over the Empire State Building, the inspiring images of a space shuttle passing the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower, would have tempered some of those ill feelings. Sadly, they haven't.

I look forward to seeing Enterprise at the Intrepid soon. And I look forward to my next visit to Space Center Houston, whenever that may be.

Originally posted to GrafZeppelin127 on Thu Jul 19, 2012 at 08:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  The resentment of certain types of Southerners (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:

    is stale and boring at this point.

    Constant whining. It just sounds pathetic.

  •  I can see the difficulties for Houston (19+ / 0-)

    While I would have loved to have a shuttle in Houston, it wouldn't have worked well. Not only do we have only one real tourist area to display a shuttle (Space Center Houston ), we really don't have the tourist draw to warrant a shuttle. Right now our major tourist draw is 1) the Astrodome (in mothballs), the USS Texas (leaking badly and may not last much longer), Space Center Houston (good for a long day - and that's about it), Galveston (a tourist town best known for a natural disaster), and a bunch of great natural history and art museums (still not a huge draw for outoftowners).

    Not to mention, Houston had to spend major bucks refurbishing the Saturn rocket that was mounted outside. The years of neglect had allowed it to deteriorate badly - there were holes in the structure and they had to get rid of bird nests! The shameful condition of the USS Texas doesn't lead anyone to confidence that the shuttle would be taken care of properly.

    Part of the gritching (b*tching = griping) is the everpresent inferiority complex of Houston to the other large cities (part of our culture by now). Part of it is that Houston should have been in the running for a shuttle (and knocked out after a consideration of the problems) rather than ignored entirely. Hey, even though I agreed with the decisions, that hurt. And, of course, some idiots down here just want to complain if they're not catered to (hey, you thought Rick Perry was the only one)?

    •  As a Houston resident, this is spot on analysis (10+ / 0-)

      Space Center Houston really isn't in Houston--and the only direct way I know of to get there from Houston is by car--not convenient for many tourists.  As a family, we went there once, and twice more with visiting family members, but that's the only reason we went after the first visit.  It's great if you live nearby--once you pay admission or buy a membership, it's pretty much all included.

      Before Space Center Houston (which is a private non-profit organization), visiting the campus of NASA was free and you got to see all the things that make Space Center Houston worthwhile and something more than just a children's museum--Rocket Park, mission control, exhibits, the underwater training facility--the really cool stuff.  

      •  I loved the Old NASA complex (10+ / 0-)

        While Space Center Houston is great for the kids, I really miss the old complex (especially on their special "everything's open" days). Seeing the actual equipment in situ really drives home how glorious, how dangerous, and how innovative NASA is. Now it's a more scientific Disneyland, sigh.

      •  Does the "really cool stuff" still exist? Is it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        accessible somehow?

        The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Clayton Act, Section 6.

        by Ignacio Magaloni on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 10:07:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, but. . . (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fuzzyguy, efrenzy, Ignacio Magaloni

          Pre-Space Center, visitors could pick up a map and wander the campus of NASA at their leisure.  Some buildings were off-limits, but it was clearly stated.  If there was a mission being flown, Mission Control was closed (as it is now).  Now, you take a tram and you have stops at certain areas like Rocket Park, but for some areas I think they have only a certain (very limited) amount of daily passes that may cost more.

          •  Thanks. I am doing some Apollo program research (0+ / 0-)

            and this is handy to know. It is too bad they had to privatize the access! I hope the kid's museums are worth it to the kids.

            The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Clayton Act, Section 6.

            by Ignacio Magaloni on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 07:26:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't know it had changed (0+ / 0-)

        I remember visiting family every Summer in Houston and visiting the old place. My impression was that the shuttle fit perfectly in such an environment.

        That said, they are going to gut the craft anyway, so why not give New York the replica?

        I think people are forgetting that those who died were part of this community. Not getting a shuttle was a show of disrespect to that community.

        The whole thing was handled poorly and the optics poor. I just hope that some smart Texas pol will have the foresight to make sure that this doesn't happen again with future generations of space craft.

        "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

        by sebastianguy99 on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 10:14:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They should have built... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    ...more Orbiters, then. Wouldn't have stressed the ones they had so much.

    But that would be logical...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Thu Jul 19, 2012 at 10:16:03 PM PDT

    •  They should have built more orbiters so they... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bush Bites, JeffW, JPax, bnasley

      Could distribute them to more cities when they retired them? o.O

      •  No, there should have been a more... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bnasley, Calamity Jean

        ...reasonable number of Orbiters to run a Space Transport System.

        That was the biggest problem with the Shuttle program, in that it stressed the exisiting fleet and essentially caused NASA to retire them, rather than continue the program. There is no other ship that can do what the Orbiter does, public or private, at this point, and expensive as the Shuttle was, I think that we should have had more Orbiters, and kept it going. Older ships would, of course, be retired, but there would be newer, improved ones available. But that didn't happen. Too many other places to waste our taxes...

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 06:59:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm, no. (0+ / 0-)

      There are aspects of the shuttle program that are good technical achievements, and we did some good things with it (Hubble). The shuttle crews and the hands-on support teams were amazing.

      I'm already planning a trip to Udvar-Hazy to see Discovery.

      But overall, it was a horrendously expensive boondoggle, the design driven by politics, not science, and had about a 1-in-50 chance of killing everybody on board every single fucking time it flew.

      And you want to build more of them? Retiring the shuttle had nothing to do with the size of the fleet, and everything to do with the staggering cost per mission.

    •  Logic is a little tweeting bird. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      But that would be logical...
      Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers that smell BAD.  

      Renewable energy brings national global security.     

      by Calamity Jean on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 10:10:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Shuttle was a white elephant. (0+ / 0-)

    Never fulfilled it's promise and, even if it did, it would have been a glorified truck.

    I don't know what all the fuss is about.

    "The disturbing footage depicts piglets being drop kicked and swung by their hind legs. Sows are seen being kicked and shoved as they resist leaving their piglets."

    by Bush Bites on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 05:38:40 AM PDT

  •  Houston only got mission control because... (6+ / 0-)

    ...their congressman was an important guy for space appropriations.

    Albert Richard Thomas (April 12, 1898 - February 15, 1966) was a Democratic Congressman from Houston, Texas for 29 years and was responsible for bringing the Johnson Space Center to Houston.

    They got more than their share, especially for a state that eventually turned anti-government.

    "The disturbing footage depicts piglets being drop kicked and swung by their hind legs. Sows are seen being kicked and shoved as they resist leaving their piglets."

    by Bush Bites on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 05:43:54 AM PDT

    •  Your bullshit regionalism is showing. (5+ / 0-)
      They got more than their share, especially for a state that eventually turned anti-government.
      Yeah, cause 3,521,164 votes for Obama, 43.8% of the vote, in '08 is clearly "anti-government" in a state that wasn't seriously campaigned by the Democratic Party in 2008.

      Before you trot out Rick Perry as an "example" of Texans rejecting government he won the governor's race with less than 1/3 of the votes cast. Gerrymandered districts, voter suppression, and a drought of national Democratic support has made TX what it is currently politically.

      •  43.8% is not a majority. (0+ / 0-)

        And arguing regionalism is kinda contradictory when you point out that it's due to lack of outside interference. Or are you saying the Republicans do interfere?

        -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

        by JPax on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 02:56:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would expect that the National Democratic Party (0+ / 0-)

          apparatus would want to try and get Democrats elected in a state as heavily populated, purple, and geographically large as Texas. Regionalism is shitting on a state or region due to perceived and often ignorant cultural biases. Kos himself not all that long ago called people out on the anti-TX nonsense and how critical the state is and realistic a Democratic overthrow of the state could be.

    •  It also helped that Rice University (5+ / 0-)

      donated the land for the facility.  Since Texas was a firmly Democratic state when it was built in the 1960's, it was hard to foretell what would happen politically in the next 40 years.

      The truth always matters.

      by texasmom on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 08:33:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And Houston Built NASA (6+ / 0-)

      Houston NASA (well, properly Clear Lake City) is between the major command centers for Space (California and Florida). Houston and the environs has expanded NASA into a major technological complex that at its peak rivalled Silicon Valley.

      And NASA was placed in Houston because of the actions of a Democratic Congressman. So? I could say the same about Florida and California. Hey, let's look at all the stuff in NYC! Makes as much sense as your statement.

      Texas was solidly Democratic though the beginning and the Apollo years of NASA. It's changed over the past 20 years, but in 2008 all major population centers (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso) went overwhelmingly for Obama. Rick Perry garnered only 31% of the vote and managed to win. Texas has gone to the red side because of gerrymandered districts, constant voter suppression, and Republican scare tactics. The Democratic Party has abandoned campaigning in Texas to their detriment.  

  •  Thanks for this background (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A nice synopsis.   And I never thought about where the orbiters stayed when they weren't in flight:

    ...the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the shuttle fleet essentially lived for the entirety of its operational life,
    When they weren't flying, were all of them kept inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)?
  •  What is lost on some folks (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    texasmom, JayBat, JeffW, jm214, efrenzy

    in Houston is the fact that NASA is not a local entity.  It and the shuttles belong to we the wee ones who foot the bills, i.e. U.S. taxpayers.

  •  NYC ... tourists (0+ / 0-)

    Houston ... not so much

    Avoiding Theocracy at Home and Neo Cons Abroad

    by UniC on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 08:26:46 AM PDT

    •  Don't know about that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My family drove several hundred miles to see what was then called the Manned Spacecraft Center in the late 60's, during the Gemini years, I believe.

      My current family made the 1000 mile round trip there in the 1990's and our young kids loved the tour and facilities so much they decided to go back and see more the next day.  They used their own money to see the IMAX show again. Today one of them has been employed there since an internship in 2006.

      The truth always matters.

      by texasmom on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 08:47:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Irony of "It's All Politics" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When the shuttle distribution was first announced, one of the responses from the Houston folks was, "It's all politics."  

    I had to laugh. What goes around comes around.

    The ONLY reason the space center exists at Houston is because of politics, i.e., Lyndon was the VP and in charge of the space program in the early 60s.

  •  It's totally appropriate for California and LA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to be recipients of an orbiter, if for no other reason they were manufactured here.

    In the late 70s through the 80's, I worked as a systems vendor to several Rockwell International divisions:

    Rocketdyne - located in Canoga Park - built the main engines.

    Space Division - located in Downey (design) and Palmdale, just outside of Los Angeles, did the manufacturing of the orbiter.

    Tens of thousands were employed in those programs.

    Also, the alternate site for landings was Edwards AFB.

    BTW, the exact quote is:  

    Houston, we've had a problem here.
  •  Honestly i didnt care (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and i dont think most people do.

    Your arguments kindof moved me to the side of the houstonites though.

    They have been one of the two centers of space flight since it started. Manhattan.. is an island for NYC's upperclass... that has a museum.. which you say has almost no aeronautic or space items. Why would they get the shuttle other than having votes?

    If we're going to base it on that.. i guess Cali and NYC get everything. Oh wait thats right they already do..

    The only rational argument for houston not getting the shuttle is.. Houston is rife with historical space artifacts and sending a shuttle to NYC would expose and perhaps inspire far more people. Which is probably the argument they decided on in reality.

    A man is born as many men but dies as a single one.--Martin Heidegger

    by cdreid on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 02:20:47 PM PDT

    •  I believe I made that argument (0+ / 0-)

      in the diary; indeed, that "Houston is rife with historical space artifacts and sending a shuttle to NYC would expose and perhaps inspire far more people" was my main point. Houston already has, inter alia, Mercury Faith 7, Gemini V, Apollo 17, and one of only three remaining Saturn V rockets. The rationale for sending Enterprise to New York was that substantially more people (residents and tourists) would be able to see it than practically anywhere else. I doubt there was anything more to it than that.

      (The fact that the shuttle could be ferried to JFK and transported to the museum by barge, rather than over land via public streets, may have been a factor as well.)

      In addition, you've severely mischaracterized my description of the Intrepid Museum. The Intrepid has a significant collection of vintage and modern military aircraft, some civilian aircraft, a Concorde, a submarine, and a propeller from the SS United States, and is itself an historic exhibit with much of the WWII-era carrier's interior open to visitors. What I said was that it had very little authentic space hardware; it has some, along with space-themed non-artifact exhibits, and the Intrepid was part of the recovery fleet for Mercury and Gemini missions, but the museum has always been more focused on the ship itself and the aforementioned aircraft, even though it is called "Sea, Air and Space Museum." The addition of Enterprise enhances the "Space" part (even though Enterprise never actually flew in space).

      Nothing I wrote was meant to denigrate the Intrepid Museum, or make subjective value judgments about either Manhattan or Houston or the people who live there.

  •  Great piece...just one quibble. (0+ / 0-)
    ...the only indoor museum facility in the country large enough to admit, let alone display, anything as large as a space shuttle,
    Not that any of the shuttles ever would have gone there, but the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio has a B-52 Stratofortress on indoor display. If it can get that beast in there, it could get an orbiter inside, too, and had there ever been a military-only orbiter, it would probably be on display there now.

    It's an amazing facility and I need to get back there and spend more time touring the galleries.

    Intended to be a factual statement.

    by ipsos on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 04:35:07 PM PDT

    •  OK. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It also occurs to me that the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, that houses the Howard Hughes flying boat (a/k/a the "Spruce Goose") could also probably hold a shuttle, as could the dome in Long Beach, CA where the Hughes behemoth was formerly housed. So yea, that's probably an exaggeration; maybe I should have called it the only museum facility large enough to house a shuttle without displacing its entire collection.

      Not only was the Udvar-Hazy Center's space hangar specifically designed and built to house a shuttle, its "barn doors" were designed and built specifically to permit a shuttle to pass through. So, second revision: the only museum facility large enough to house a shuttle without displacing its entire collection, and of admitting a shuttle without dismantling an entire side of the building.

      All three of the locations receiving orbiters, including the KSC, had to construct new facilities to house them; the others, including Space Center Houston, included in their bids proposals for new facilities.

      I've actually been to Dayton; I was there on my 21st birthday, to call a football game on college radio. If I ever get back there I'll be sure to check out the museum.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site