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Lawmakers Want a Space Shuttle In New York City 246

Posted by timothy
from the eternal-city-or-500-years-whichever-comes-first dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Bloomberg reports that New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and a bipartisan delegation of 17 US representatives from New York and New Jersey have sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden calling for the agency to place a shuttle aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. A former aircraft carrier, Intrepid served as one of NASA's recovery vehicles for early space flights. Intrepid officials have gathered almost 57,000 signatures on a petition to bring an orbiter to New York, and NASA is weighing 21 bids from visitors' centers, science museums and educational institutions eager to host one of the three aging space shuttles that will be retired this year. 'These are going to be like the Mona Lisa,' says space historian John Logsdon, referring to Leonardo da Vinci's iconic 1506 portrait of a woman in Florence that remains on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris. 'The primary criteria for the shuttles' location will be the stability of the site and whether the chosen institutions can exhibit them for the next 500 years.'"
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Lawmakers Want a Space Shuttle In New York City

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  • by PyroMosh (287149) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:06AM (#31953066) Homepage

    Agreed. The Intrepid is a great museum, and one of my favorite places in the world. But it's very specifically a museum of durable things. Military aircraft and supersonic transports that are designed for all-weather.

    The Space Shuttle is the very definition of a Hangar Queen. It takes tens of thousands of man hours of re-fitting for each flight. The tiles are delicate, and it's not really designed to be exposed to the elements long term. It might be able to be, but given it's track record, do we really want to risk it when there are only three remaining in existence?

    Yes, they probably *could* get it into the hangar bay of the Intrepid, but given the shuttle's size, they may actually have to dismantle the ship to do so.

    The Essex Class carrier has a deck elevator with dimensions of 60 ft x 34 ft [wapedia.mobi]. It's maximum load weight was 40,000 Lbs [globalsecurity.org]. The shuttle orbiter by comparison is 122.17 ft by 78.06 ft and weighs 151,205 lb. [wikipedia.org]

    In other words, the orbiter weighs in (empty) at triple the capacity of the Intrepid's elevators. Even if they didn't use the elevators and used some kind of crane instead, it's still 78.06 ft on it's smaller dimension vs the deck opening's larger dimension which is 60 ft.

    They'd have to dismantle either the Intrepid or the orbiter to get it inside. Even if they did, the hangar deck is hardly climate controlled to begin with...

    To use the Intrepid site, they'd either have to dismantle part of the ship to get it inside, then extensively retrofit it to provide a climate controlled environment, or they'd have to build a new facility on the Pier along side Intrepid just to house the Shuttle. The Intrepid gets most of it's operating budget from admissions, memberships, and the occasional grant. I don't think it's going to go away tomorrow, but I do get the distinct impression that compared to the Smithsonian, or the Kennedy Space Center (both government funded), it's hanging on my the margins.

    The 500 year rule makes sense to me. These are invaluable pieces of human history. The Apollo Command Modules are in the same class. The National Air And Space Museum in D.C. makes sense as a location for one. They already have the Columbia module from Apollo 11 [si.edu], which I assume we would want to maintain to the same standards. However, they also already have the orbiter prototype Enterprise, so it seems to make more sense to spread the three remaining orbiters to allow as many people as possible to have access to them as possible. Perhaps one one at Kennedy Space Center, and one in Houston, and one on the West Coast somewhere?

    New York City would allow millions of people to have access. And Intrepid is the premier aerospace site in the city. But it's just not equipped or funded for something like this.

    The Aerospace museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base [af.mil] may also be appropriate, but it has a distinct military aerospace bias.

    Likewise Vandenberg Air Force Base in California could be a great site, as it was almost a second launch site for the Shuttle [wikipedia.org]. Having an orbiter wind up there permanently could be very apropos. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any museum or public exhibit at Vandenberg, which is a shame. Edwards Air Force Base [wikipedia.org] (Secondary shuttle landing site) and White Sands Space Harbor [nasa.gov] in New Mexico could be appropriate for similar reasons. But again, they're both military bases, and not terribl

  • Re:500 years? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:28AM (#31954310) Homepage

    Yes, but the Apollo/Saturn V center building was only completed in 1996. Prior to then, the rocket sat outside (near the VAB), and suffered severe damage from the salt air and weather exposure. The rocket was cosmetically restored prior to the opening of the new building.

  • by iprefermuffins (1460233) on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:58AM (#31954686)
    Wait, what did the US have to do with the decommissioning of Mir? You realize Mir was a Russian station, right?

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