How to Display a Retired Space Shuttle

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NASA has stated that it intends to put up its three space shuttle orbiters -- Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour -- on museums for public display after the fleet is retired. The agency requested interested museums submit statements of interest, including details for how they plan to meet the requirement of exhibiting an orbiter in an environmentally-controlled, enclosed display.

NASA has reserved Discovery for the Smithsonian but the fates of Atlantis and Endeavour, as well as the prototype Enterprise have yet to be decided. In the interim, some of the 20 organizations vying for an orbiter have released concepts for how they plan to exhibit a retired shuttle, should they receive one.


Space shuttle Enterprise, on display since 2003 at the Smithsonian's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., will be replaced on exhibit by Discovery, according to National Air and Space Museum curators. (Credit: Dane Penland/NASM)


According to sources, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex would seek to modify one of NASA's Orbiter Processing Facilities to at least temporarily house and display a retired shuttle, removing some of the support scaffolding to allow a better view. (Credit: NASA)


The new 53,000-square-foot space shuttle exhibit at Space Center Houston, the official visitor center for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas, will focus on the human side of shuttle operations, including astronaut activities. (Credit: Space Center Houston)


The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, had existing plans to ad a new hangar to its facility, with an area set aside as a "Space Gallery." The museum has cited the USAF's role in the shuttle program as why it merits an orbiter. (Credit: USAF)


The Air Force Museum's "Space Gallery" display would also include Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft. (Credit: USAF)


Stills taken from an animated tour of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's proposed display of an orbiter. The Huntsville, Alabama museum acquired the Orbiter Protective Enclosure built to protect and shield an orbiter from prying eyes if it was ever forced to land outside the U.S. while carrying classified cargo, which could be an appropriate home for a retired orbiter. (Credit: U.S. Space & Rocket Center)


New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum would display the orbiter inside an enclosed hangar located along Hudson River Park Pier 86 where the aircraft carrier is berthed, just blocks away from Times Square. (Credit: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum)


The Museum of Flight's glass-enclosed "Human Spaceflight Gallery," which the Seattle, Washington museum pledged $12 million and broken ground in June 2010 to build, even before knowing if they will receive an orbiter. (Credit: Museum of Flight)



The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon is no stranger to displaying large craft: they already house the Hughes H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose. Here, an artist shows how an orbiter would fit among their displays. (Credit: Evergreen)



Tulsa, Oklahoma may not come to mind when thinking about space, but it is where the space shuttle's payload doors were assembled. The Tulsa Air and Space Museum plans to show off those doors by displaying the orbiter vertically. (Credit: TASM)

[via Collect Space]

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