30 years ago today the Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off on the first shuttle mission. Two missions ended in disaster, but a total of five different shuttles spent a collective 1289 days in space over 132 missions. The program is set for retirement after Atlantis’ final voyage later this month. The three remaining shuttles, along with the Enterprise prototype, are going to need cozy homes.
Of course every museum around the US wants one, but there are only four shuttles to go around with one already reserved for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The shuttles new homes are to cover the $28.8 million cost of prepping and transporting the massive shuttles, but those costs should be easily recovered with ticket sales. NASA has been talking with suitors for the last few months and used the historic anniversary to announce the winners.
Space Shuttle Discovery
Somber fact about the Discovery: After her final space mission this past March, she became the only original Shuttle to survive her final launch and landing unlike the Challenger and Columbia. She’s going to end up at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to replace the Enterprise prototype.
Space Shuttle Atlantis
The Atlantis first took off from Kennedy Space Center in April of 1985 and flew for the last time on May 14, 2010. She logged 120 million miles over 32 missions. Her final destination will be in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center after NASA removes all the dangerous fluids and equipment.
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Save a disaster, the youngest Space Shuttle Endeavour is on her way to the California Science Center in Los Angeles after flying her Space Shuttle mission later this month.
The Enterprise is to be moved from its current home at the Smithsonian to the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum located on Manhattan’s West Side. While it never actually reached outer space, the Enterprise conducted upper atmosphere test flights and actually flew over New York City in 1983. Likewise, NYC itself never had a major historical claim to the Shuttle like several other vying locations, but the 1943 warship museum does pull in close to a million visitors a year and helped recovery early NASA launch vehicles.
Update: Atlantis is the final shuttle mission and the post was updated as such. Thanks for pointing out the error.