Two weeks after flying into John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport atop a modified Boeing 747, Enterprise — NASA’s original prototype space shuttle — was offloaded by crane from the back of the jumbo jet the morning of May 13.
Workers finished hoisting Enterprise off the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at about 6:30 a.m. EDT. The orbiter, which did not fly in space but was used for a series of approach and landing tests in the late 1970s, was lowered onto a wheeled transporter and then moved to a hangar to wait being barged to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for public display.
Enterprise’s three-day journey on the Hudson River to the Intrepid, a converted World War II aircraft carrier in Manhattan, is set to begin on June 4.
Enterprise touched down in New York from Virginia, where it had been on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum since 2003, on April 27. Still attached to the 747, Enterprise was parked at JFK under an open-ended hangar. NASA then set up at the New York airport the same two large cranes used in Virginia to mount the orbiter atop the jetliner for its ferry flight.
All of NASA’s shuttles are getting new museum homes after the space agency retired the orbiter fleet in 2011. The shuttle Discovery replaced Enterprise at the Smithsonian on April 19.
United Space Alliance workers began May 14 dismantling the cranes at JFK. The 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft was scheduled to depart for NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California by the end of the week. In September, it will fly to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its final space shuttle ferry flight, carrying the shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles for the California Science Center.
The only space shuttle not to ride a carrier aircraft to its final museum home is Atlantis, which will be moved by land from Kennedy to the nearby its nearby visitor complex in Florida.
Enterprise’s river journey to the Intrepid will include a stopover in Bayonne, N.J., to be moved onto a crane-equipped barge. Once alongside the ship-based museum, the shuttle will be hoisted onto the flight deck. A climate-controlled temporary steel and fabric structure will then be erected over the shuttle.
The Intrepid’s Space Pavilion is set to open to the public July 19. The first tickets to view Enterprise went on sale at the beginning of May.