Relocating Retired Space Shuttles

Relocating Retired Space Shuttles

July 2011 is going to go down in history books – the final space shuttle launch is due to take place this month.  But, once the space shuttles are retired, where will they go?  What will happen to them?  Well, one thing is for sure, they will all be moved from Cape Canaveral to other locations throughout the United States.

The three remaining space shuttles will all end up moving to different places once they are officially retired later this year.  Discovery, the oldest remaining shuttle – and most frequently flown – will end up in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum near the Dulles International Airport.  Endeavor, will move to California and be on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.  Finally, Atlantis will not move very far; as it will be staying in Florida.  It will be exhibited on NASA property at the Kennedy Space Center.

It is important that the remaining space shuttles go on display so that everyone has a chance to really get a close look.  Learning from the shuttles will only help encourage future generations to continue on with the exploration and study of space.  Who knows, perhaps one day our offspring will need to move to a new planet.  Making sure that our future generations know as much as they can about the universe will help make that relocation a little easier.

Because the space shuttles will be taking up residence in new locations and they are somewhat larger than usual museum items, they are displacing other exhibits.  For example, Enterprise, the test orbiter that has called the Smithsonian home since 1982, will be moved to New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.

One big question that a lot of people are asking is how the space shuttles will actually be moved from one location to another.  Certainly, NASA doesn’t plan on flying them across the country, do they?  Of course not. NASA is making plans to ship the shuttles to their new homes by the middle of 2012.

The whole relocation of the space shuttles is pretty interesting to say the least.  Those shuttles that are moving out of Florida will be attached to the back of one of NASA’s modified 747 Boeing airliners and transported via “air ferry.”  Cranes will be used to offload the shuttles and help deliver them to their final display areas.

A hanger is usually going to be the best way to display the space shuttles once they are retired and put on exhibit.  In fact, the National Air and Space Museum, which is slated to receive Discovery, will place the shuttle in an exhibit hall with other important and historic space artifacts.  Similar plans are in place for all of the new display locations.

Lance Grooms