NASA names space shuttles' retirement homes

Space agency gives nod to Smithsonian, California Science Center & Kennedy Space Center

NASA has announced the four facilities that will receive a retired space shuttle to display once the fleet is officially shut down.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced on Tuesday the new homes for the four shuttles, noting that the agency hopes the spacecrafts will inspire the next generation of explorers and engineers. The space agency is in the process of retiring the fleet, with only Endeavour and Atlantis still to fly their final missions. By the end of June, the entire fleet officially will be retired.

The space shuttle Enterprise, which was the first built, will be moved from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. The Udvar-Hazy Center isn't losing out, though. It will become the permanent home of the shuttle Discovery, which retired after completing its 39th mission in March.

The shuttle Endeavour, which is gearing up for its final launch on April 29, will find its retirement home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. And Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will go to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Orlando.

News of the space shuttle's future retirement homes comes on the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle to launch into space. It also is the 50th anniversary of human space flight.

"This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind," said Bolden. "In the end, these choices provide the greatest number of people with the best opportunity to share in the history and accomplishments of NASA's remarkable space shuttle program. These facilities we've chosen have a noteworthy legacy of preserving space artifacts and providing outstanding access to U.S. and international visitors."

NASA also announced that hundreds of shuttle artifacts will go to various museums and educational facilities around the country.

For instance, flight deck pilot and commander seats will go to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, while the full fuselage trainer will go to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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