Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Musical Shuttles


In December of 2008, I mentioned with no small amount of amusement that NASA was soliciting bids for retired Space Shuttles. *Sigh* back then it seemed like Shuttle retirement was still "a long way off." Now, it may be only 5 months before these grand dames of the heavens start their new lives as tourism novelties.

As predicted, Houston made a bid to acquire a Shuttle for Rocket Park at Johnson Space Center, and the Houston Chronicle now reports that there are 21 other bids, with some bearing political baggage.

Space Shuttle
The Austin Planetarium made what may turn out to be an overly-ambitious attempt, and it seems unlikely that two will end up in Texas. Austin and Houston may have to duke it out, but what about California, Florida or Ohio?

Some expected President Obama to name sites during discussions of NASA's new direction and budget re-allocations, but a few extra shuttle missions may still be in the cards, so no major announcement was forthcoming. At the moment, the only "sure thing" is that the first of the fleet, Shuttle Discovery, will be sent to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

A few weeks ago on This Week In Space, Miles O'Brien reported that Shuttle Enterprise (the one currently at the Smithsonian) had been inspected by engineers to determine if she was flight-worthy, since she would need a new home once displaced by Discovery's arrival.

Enterprise never made it to low earth orbit, of course, as she was designed only to test orbiter characteristics, but she holds a special place in the hearts of many, being the official "First Space Shuttle." I googled madly about, trying to find where Enterprise was headed, but that also seems to be up in the air. In the past, the Smithsonian took ownership of ALL spacecraft, and then merely "loaned out" to other institutions, so this sort of rivalry between cities and congressional representatives is unprecedented. Let's hope it doesn't get ugly!

Hey! Maybe we should just leave them on the runway after the last voyage, and whomever thinks they can pilot one to their museum, have at it!

Shuttle Carrier
Where to, Jeeves?

NASA has now officially reduced the original price of $42 million (estimated in December 2008) to $28 million. Any chosen facilities, however, must pay for ferrying the orbiters atop NASA's modified Boeing 747 "Shuttle Carrier" aircraft from Florida's Kennedy Space Center to their destinations.

Looking forward to the final announcement in July...


Sci-Fi Gene said...

Can we have one in the UK please?

For your interest I found this link to the final resting places of all the Russian Buran orbiters and test vehicles here:


Would love to visit some of these one day, particularly the one in Gorky Park.

Mrs. L said...

Hmm...anyone got a spare 28 million? I'd love to have a space shuttle in my back yard!

Mike Robertson said...

I have a question, not about this post though. Recently Stephen Hawkins said that if we ever get to meet E.T.s, they're most likely going to be hostile and in fact we shouldn't look forward for any contact.

I can see where he's coming from, looking back on our own history, when ever a superior culture (tech wise) has meet another less advanced one, there's been killings and massacres and pretty much the less advanced people have been eliminated.

First of all, from a scientific point of view, he can't make that comparison because we don't know if the E.T.s are going to be like us, heck, they may not even be carbon based life forms.

Second, if they've reached the technology to travel thousands of light years from one galaxy to another, that pretty much means the whole universe is their back yard, they can go anywhere they like, and whatever resources we may have here on earth that would interest them, they can find in many other planets as well.

Also, since we don't know ANYTHING about them, the chances of them being nice and friendly are just as much as them being hostile.

I have to say I was surprised but more angry to hear Stephen Hawking say that, because he has a very high reputation and people listen to him. You may argue that it's just HIS opinion, but when one is so high up the food chain as he is and with virtually the whole world as his audience, he has to be more responsible.

I think what he SHOULD HAVE said was that "we simply don't know if they're going to be friendly or hostile, because we don't anything about them. But my personal opinion is that ..."

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