Human Journey

That Space Shuttle Would Look Great on My Mantle …

In December 2008 NASA put out a press release that pretty much cinches the upcoming retirement of the space shuttle program: Shuttles for sale, $42 million/ea.

Well, it’s not really that the shuttles are gonna cost ya—that’s just the price for shipping and handling. And if you’re really keen, lucky for you, the cost has been marked down since then to a mere $28 million a pop.

If a full-size shuttle won’t quite fit in your driveway, last October the space agency put up a Web site filled with a slew of smaller shuttle artifacts available to “education institutions, science museums and other appropriate organizations.”


Part of an “extravehicular mobility unit suit” from the Apollo program.

—Image courtesy NASA

That first round needed to be spoken for by November 30, and in an announcement issued today, NASA says that all 913 objects (not including the shuttles) have been snatched up.

Now for round two. Roughly 2,500 artifacts are currently on the auction block, not just from the shuttle program, but also Hubble, Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini.

The National Air and Space Museum and the handful of NASA visitor centers around the country get first dibs. But after 30 days of “internal prescreening,” it’s first come, first served.

Unlike the Apollo program, which ended in 1972, the Mercury project (1958-1963), and Gemini (1962-1966), the shuttle and the Hubble Space Telescope are kinda still in operation, so it’s an interesting turn of events that NASA is looking to clear its attic in advance.


A 1/10th scale model of a Gemini spacecraft—are the astronaut action figures included?

—Image courtesy NASA

True, the final shuttle flight is slated for September of this year. But who knows when Hubble will actually kick the bucket?

And while a few pieces were removed from the ‘scope during the final servicing flight and are currently viewable at Air and Space, Hubble got some nice replacement parts in return. It’s unclear whether the rest of the instrument will be retrieved somehow or will remain in a slowly decaying orbit when it finally does shut down.

It’s also amusing to think of where exactly all these pieces of our nation’s history are really headed.

Not that I imagine Atlantis will be packed into a wooden crate and handed off to “top men” in a secret warehouse.


Part of an astronaut’s glove used on the space shuttle.

—Image courtesy NASA

You just gotta wonder what will truly become of all those wrinkled space suits, nicked helmets, and fading scale models when we could barely keep track of who has our moon rocks

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