Final Landings for NASA’s Space Shuttles — and some planning thoughts

Space shuttle landing
The news of the decision was made last week. Fierce competition for the three remaining Space Transport System (STS) vehicles — “Space Shuttles” in non NASA speak — which have been in orbit, as well as the engineless Enterprise which flew in Earth’s atmosphere but not designed for orbital missions — was had though the cost to each museum would be high. Estimated costs are around $28 million USD to render each shuttle safe for public display and transport with the added hefty requirement to display the each shuttle indoors.

Here are the locations with some added thoughts:

STS Atlantis will go to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. I am not sure if the existing buildings there will house her, or not. Getting Atlantis to KSC will be easy as she has been routinely flown there in order to accomplish her missions but getting her to the display site will need some attention.

STS Discovery is destined for the National Air & Space Museum Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia near Washington DC. This museum is the current home for STS Enterprise which will be transported to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, New York. The Udvar-Hazy Center is located in the southeastern corner of Dulles International Airport and the design of the museum reflects that of an extremely large aircraft hangar. Extracting the Enterprise and inserting the Discovery should be a straight forward affair though one that would be interesting to watch. Dulles may experience a unique event, NASA’s shuttle carrying Boeing B-747 landing with one shuttle and taking off with another.

STS Endevour has been slated to retire to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California. This museum has a Lockheed A-12 “Blackbird” nicknamed individually”Titanium Goose”* on outside display along with a Douglas DC-8 also on outside display. The museum is not on an airfield — getting the Endevour to LAX will be easy enough to accomplish but taking her over 10 miles (16km) of urban roadways will be challenging and a new building will be required.

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