NEW YORK - Amongst its myriad other tourist attractions and landmarks, the Big Apple could become home to one of NASA's retiring space shuttles following the retirement of the fleet in 2011, according to news reports.
Susan Marenoff, executive director of New York City's Intrepid Sea-Air and Space Museum, is lobbying hard to snag one of the historic space shuttles for her museum's collection once they are retired in 2011, the New York Daily News reports.
"We believe the merits of New York City and the Intrepid will continue to position New York to be a final destination for a shuttle," Susan Marenoff, the museum's executive director, told the Daily News. "The opportunity for an enormous population to visit, to learn and simply see this icon in a contextual historical setting simply cannot be ignored."
Earlier this year, the museum launched on-site and online campaigns to gather signatures of support for acquiring a space shuttle.
The bids will likely be subject to a highly political process, but Marenoff thinks the Intrepid stands a good chance of landing a shuttle, so long as Congress plays fair. Still, Marenoff and the aircraft carrier-turned-museum could face an uphill battle, thanks to the results of the November election.
According to the Daily News, Republicans from Texas, who have previously expressed interest in having a shuttle displayed in their home state, were set to take control of key House committees that have a hand in shaping NASA's budget.
The agency's three operational shuttles ? Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour ? are set to be retired next year, and will be up for grabs for interested museums in the United States. Discovery, NASA's oldest and most-flown space shuttle, is set to fly on its final mission to deliver supplies, science experiments and spare parts to the International Space Station on Dec. 3.
Over 20 museums and institutions across the nation have placed a bid for one of the three shuttles that have flown in space, including the Tulsa Air and Space Museum in Oklahoma; the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History in Bryan, Texas; the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon; the California Science Center in Los Angeles; and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
NASA's space shuttle prototype Enterprise, which was used for landing flight tests but did not fly in space, is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air & Space Museum.
The Smithsonian has reportedly been planning to obtain Discovery, but NASA officials have yet to set a date for the announcement of the shuttles' final homes.
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- NASA Delays Deciding Where Retired Space Shuttles Will Be Displayed