Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Orbiter Retirement Homes

It's official. Today at Kennedy Space Center, in the shadow of Orbital Processing Facility 1 and the orbiter Atlantis, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden choked back tears as he announced the retirement of the orbiter fleet. His emotions were from love and respect, not only of the spacecraft he has had the opportunity to ride four times into space, but also for the men and women, some gathered around him, who give the fleet wings. Here is the rundown of where the orbiters will one day chock their wheels for the final time:

OV-101 Enterprise
The flight-test orbiter which has been displayed at the Udvar-Hazy Center will fly one more time to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York, NY. It will be displayed on the dock along side the naval vessel that was used to recover both Mercury and Gemini spacecraft.

OV-103 Discovery
With Enterprise vacating its current home, way will be made for Discovery to be displayed at America's premier facility for aerospace history. The Udvar-Hazy Center location has been known for quite some time, so no surprise for most of the people in the audience.

OV-104 Atlantis
Met with a cheer and a standing ovation, Bolden announced Atlantis will remain at the Kennedy Space Center and located in the Visitor Complex in the current Shuttle Plaza.

OV-105 Endeavour
A surprise to me was the location of Endeavour at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA. While I suspected a west coast location for one of the orbiters, I guessed a location with a slightly more aerospace focused theme. The CSC will provide a worthy home in a high population, vacation destination locale.

So, that's it, kids. Two more flights, then see them on display. While it will be sad to see them grounded, there is and will always be an immense amount of pride in the gems of the Space Transportation System.

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