Yesterday the Shuttle Discovery flew its final mission, a piggyback ride on a 747 from Florida to Washington DC, where it will take its place as a permanent part of the Smithsonian’s Dulles Airport collection. In doing so, it has displaced the Shuttle Enterprise, formerly housed there and now on the move to somewhere else.
Unlike the Discovery, Enterprise has never actually been in outer space. It was the first shuttle ever constructed but it was only ever used to test the vehicle’s atmospheric flight ability. I guess that makes it a little less valuable than the Discovery, so it makes sense that the Smithsonian would replace it with a ship that’s actually been out in the void.
But the Enterprise is still the first ever space shuttle and that means it’s wanted, somewhere. That somewhere is in Manhattan where it’s scheduled to be displayed on the deck of the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier turned int a floating museum.
Trek Movie reports that the Enterprise will fly into the Big Apple on April 23rd, piggybacking aboard the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in the same way the Discovery did yesterday. The actual flight is supposed to happen between 9:30am and 11:30am, so if you’re in New York City… watch the skies. This may be the last time you’ll ever be able to see one of America’s space shuttles in the sky.
The Enterprise (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-101) should hold a special place in the hearts of science fiction fans. Obviously it has the same name as the most famous fictional starship of all time, but unlike the aircraft carrier Enterprise which was named for a previous sailing vessel, the Shuttle Enterprise really was named in honor of the inspiration provided by Star Trek. Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and most of the Star Trek cast were even on hand for the ship’s dedication ceremony on September 17, 1976.