NASA Speeds Plan for Displaying Shuttles

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NASA is accelerating plans for displaying its three space shuttle orbiters once they are retired from service later this year, according to a revised solicitation issued Jan. 15. In addition, NASA says it now plans to cover the cost of getting the orbiters ready for display, a modification to an earlier solicitation that will ultimately lower the cost of housing each spacecraft, according to the updated document.

“Because of notable changes to the 2008 cost and delivery schedule, NASA is issuing a follow-up 2010 RFI to convey that the cost has dropped from $42 [million] to $28.8 [million] and the delivery schedule has advanced by six months,” information on the agency’s Web site states.

The chosen museums and educational institutions would be required to take delivery of the shuttles and other hardware as early as July 2011, 10 months sooner than the May 2012 date stated in the original request for information  issued in December 2008.

Space Shuttle Discovery has been promised to Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, but Atlantis and Endeavour remain unclaimed.