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NASA's Space Shuttles: Where Are They Now?

NASA's Retired Space Shuttles

NASA's retired space planes are officially on display for the public to enjoy, but you'll have to go state-hopping to see all four of the iconic spacecraft.

From Los Angeles to New York, the space shuttles have made their homes around the country. The shuttles on public display include NASA's three space-flown orbiters — Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour — as well as the prototype shuttle Enterprise, which never flew in space but was used for landing glide tests. [8 Surprising Space Shuttle Facts]

Here's where to find NASA's space shuttles and what you need to know when you visit them:

FIRST STOP: Enterprise, NASA's First Shuttle

Enterprise: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York City, NY

Michael Minervini

Why to visit: Enterprise was the first space shuttle, but never actually flew in space. Enterprise was built without a heat shield or engines, making it incapable of spaceflight. It was used for drop tests and glide tests, giving astronauts a sense of what to expect during trips to and from space.

To the glee of "Star Trek" fans everywhere, Enterprise was named after the venerable starship commanded by Captain Kirk in the original series. It was originally called Constitution, but after receiving tens of thousands of letters from people around the country, then-president Gerald Ford decided to rename the orbiter.

Cost of admission: Due to damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy, the Enterprise pavilion at the museum is currently closed, but scheduled to reopen on July 10.

NEXT STOP: Discovery, NASA's Most Traveled Space Shuttle

Discovery: National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Va.

Mark Avino, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Why to visit: The space shuttle Discovery launched for the first time in 1984. Although it was only the third shuttle to fly to space, it flew the most missions, 39 in total. Discovery was chosen as the "Return to Flight" orbiter after two space shuttle tragedies; once in 1988 after the Challenger explosion and then again in 2005 after the Columbia disaster.

Discovery is responsible for launching the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and was used to help build the International Space Station.

This space shuttle is part of a long, historical tradition of naming ships "Discovery," NASA officials have said. Henry Hudson's Hudson Bay exploring vessel was named Discovery, as was James Cook's in the 1770s.

Cost of admission: Free

NEXT STOP: Atlantis, Florida's Hometown Shuttle

Atlantis: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, NASA, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

NASA/ Jim Grossmann

Why to visit: The space shuttle Atlantis was the last to fly in space before the fleet was retired in 2011 and the final orbiter to be put on public display. Atlantis flew 33 missions, including secret missions for the U.S. military, flights to space stations and missions to launch several spacecraft into orbit.

Atlantis was named after a ship that sailed for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts between 1930 and 1966. That vessel was the first seafaring ship to image the seafloor using electronic sounding technology.

Cost of admission: A viewing of the shuttle is included in the price of admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: $50 for adults, $40 for children (ages 3-11).

NEXT STOP: Endeavour, NASA Youngest Shuttle

Endeavour: California Science Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

collectSPACE.com/Robert Z. Pearlman

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