August 22, 2019

NASA announces final resting places for space shuttles

The space shuttle Atlantis blasts off. The shuttles have made a huge contribution in moving us further along the evolutionary path of space exploration.

NASA has announced today where the four remaining space shuttles are going to be ‘retired’ too. Discovery and the shuttle programme’s test vehicle Enterprise have been decommissioned. Endeavour blasts off on its 24th and final mission on 29th April. Atlantis is the last cab off the rank on 28th June 2011.

The space shuttle Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

The Endeavour, is going to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Discovery will be at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. That is a serious mouth full.

The test shuttle, Enterprise, will be stationed at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.

The announcement was made by NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. at a special ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center.

It coincided with the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle program’s first flight, made by the Columbia orbiter, and the 50th anniversary of Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human in space.

More than 20 locations around America had bid to host one of the orbiters which are set to become major tourist drawcards.

The shutout of Texas as a venue for a space shuttle has understandibly not gone well in the Lone Star State.

Texan Senator John Cornyn, said the Johnson Space Center in Houston should have been one of the retirement homes for a shuttle, “but it is clear political favours trumped common sense and fairness in the selection of the final locations for the orbiter fleet,” he said in a statement.

He noted that Houston “played a critical role throughout the life of the space shuttle.”

“Like many Texans, I am disappointed with NASA’s decision to slight the Johnson Space Center as a permanent home for one of the space shuttle orbiters,” Cornyn said.

“It is an affront to the thousands of dedicated men and women at Johnson Space Center, the greater Houston community and the state of Texas, and I’m deeply disappointed with the administration’s misguided decision,” Cornyn said.

Each winning location has to pay over $28.8 million to NASA for delivery of the vehicles. They also must guarantee a climate-controlled building will be constructed to house their shuttle. That’s still a bargain, officials at the bidding locations said, because of the return on investment they expect.

Two other shuttles were destroyed in flight accidents. The Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff on January 28, 1986, and the Columbia disintegrated during re-entry on February 1, 2003.

Like all pioneering space programmes there are always sacrifices. Newswarped salutes the men and women who died in the shuttle disasters. We also salute the dedicated men and women who have poured the best years of their lives into making the space shuttle programme a success.