NASA's space shuttle Enterprise launched on a voyage Sunday (June 3), going where no space shuttle has gone before: New Jersey.
The space agency's original prototype orbiter, Enterprise is scheduled to arrive at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on the west side of Manhattan on Tuesday (June 5). Leaving Sunday from New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport where it was delivered atop a jumbo jet in late April, the shuttle was barged to Bayonne, N.J., as a layover on its way up the Hudson River.
Enterprise, having first arrived in the Big Apple by air and setting sail Sunday by sea, is only missing the experience of traveling through space to complete the Intrepid's three modal themes. The first of NASA's space shuttles, Enterprise did not fly in orbit but instead was used for a series of approach and landing tests in the late 1970s. [Gallery: Enterprise Sails to New Jersey]
On Saturday, a large crane was used to load the 57,000 pound (26,000 kilogram) prototype shuttle onto the open air flat bed barge, which, towed by tugboat, made the trip to the Garden State the next day. Spectators in Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn, including at Coney Island, lined the shores to watch as Enterprise floated by.
Along the way, the space shuttle Enterprise passed under several crossings, its vertical stabilizer, or tail, clearing the Verrazano Bridge, for example, by a good margin. At others, including the Gil Hodges Memorial, the bridges needed to be raised to allow the shuttle to pass.
The shuttle will stay in Bayonne through Tuesday. On Monday, it'll be hoisted off its barge onto one equipped with a crane.
On Tuesday (June 5), at 9:15 a.m. EDT (1315 GMT), Enterprise is scheduled to depart the Jersey shore to sail for the Intrepid, which is docked at Pier 86 at W. 46th Street and 12th Avenue in New York City.
The shuttle is expected to float past the Statue of Liberty at about 9:50 a.m. EDT (1350 GMT) and the World Trade Center about 50 minutes later prior to traveling the rest of its way up the Hudson River to complete its journey by 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT).
Once positioned alongside the Intrepid, a converted aircraft carrier, Enterprise will be hoisted off the barge and onto the museum's flight deck.
Starting Wednesday, a climate-controlled steel and fabric shelter will begin being erected over Enterprise, to protect it while on display. The Intrepid's new "Space Shuttle Pavilion" is scheduled to open to the public on July 19. Tickets for the Enterprise display are on sale now through the museum's box office and website.
The Intrepid plans to exhibit Enterprise on its flight deck until a permanent display home can be built. The museum is currently accepting donations and soliciting sponsors to create a facility to showcase the shuttle and enhance its other space-related exhibits and educational curriculum.
Visit shuttles.collectspace.com for continuing coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.
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Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.