Human Journey

Space Shuttle “Retirement Homes” Announced

The wait is over.

At a ceremony today honoring the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden finally revealed which museums around the country are going to get retired shuttles to put on display.

Without further adieu, the winners are:

Anticipating high interest, NASA had issued a request for information back in December 2008 asking “education institutions, science museums and other appropriate organizations” to make the case why they should get one of the four orbiters up for grabs.

The kicker is that NASA requires each organization that gets a shuttle to front $28.8 million U.S. to cover the costs of cleaning and transporting retired orbiters.

In total the agency received 21 replies, and although the full list remains confidential, several institutions made their bids public—including a media smack-down between the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, and the Intrepid Museum in NYC.

Currently the only shuttle on display is the Enterprise (picture), a prototype orbiter that went on test flights within Earth’s atmosphere but never made it into space. That shuttle already makes its home at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Still, the Air and Space Museum had made it clear in their bid to NASA that they *really* wanted the space shuttle Discovery, also known as the workhorse of the shuttle program. In exchange they’d swap out the Enterprise, putting that orbiter up for grabs.

Discovery had completed its final flight by the time Bolden made his decisions, and it’s already being dismantled for cleaning and preparation for display.

Due to the tragic losses of Challenger and Columbia, the other shuttles waiting for retirement are Endeavour, which should fly its last mission at the end of this month, and Atlantis, which is being prepped for a probable final mission in June.

Amid cheers and tears during today’s announcement, Bolden told the crowd that organizations that didn’t get an orbiter “will receive significant shuttle hardware and artifacts.”

As for those lucky four that did, “take good care of our vehicles,” he said. “They’ve served the nation well, and we at NASA have a deep and abiding relationship and love affair with them that’s hard to put into words.”

  • Sandy

    When I read the headline I thought, “Wow, how much is NASA going to charge people to let them retire in outer space?”

  • Kat

    Shuttles finally have a secure resting place and a destination. Space is a new “play-gound” for us to learn about, can’t wait to see what NASA comes around with in the next few years.

  • BJ

    Kat, I hate to tell you this but unless the priority of the nation gets back to peaceful manned exploration of space we will most likely be watching what China comes up with. Right now we have a large facility called the space station in orbit and after June will only get to it by buying rides from other countries.

  • Michaël

    BJ do not forget that the space station is international !
    it is also owned by other countries.
    NASA won’t have to buy rides ,it is a coorporation.
    The russian soyuz wil be the main spaceship for transportation.

  • scj

    Oh,I thihk i should say bye to space shuttle

  • Patrickjcorcoranjr pj

    We should have a positive view about our role
    in space exploration. It was so well exemplified
    by President Kennedy. Even though we were not
    the first ones in outer space. We were the first to
    make a program go round and round.

  • dirk Waldon

    I am sooo glad that the main event site for all of America’s space happenings got one. Next to come, the full life size bronze ( likeness) figures of all 17 Astronauts who lost their lives in search of peaceful space flight.

  • Dirk Waldon

    That’s Apollo 1 (3); Challenger (7); and Columbia (7). Kennedy Space Center will always be the home of manned space flight for these United States of the Americas.

  • […] the shuttles promised to their new homes as display pieces in museums country-wide, NASA is now a knight without horses. NASA has signed […]

  • […] to Earth, the shuttle program will come to a conclusion, and all space shuttles will be retired to four locations across the States. What plans does NASA have for manned missions after this? Well, if you visit […]

  • patroanejo

    It’s not without further adieu, it’s without further ado, as in with no more fuss.

    Please tell me you’re an intern.

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