NASA Transfers Enterprise Title to Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City
NASA transferred title and ownership of space shuttle Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum during a ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 11, at the museum in New York City. The transfer is the first step toward Intrepid receiving Enterprise in the spring of 2012.
"NASA is proud to transfer the title of space shuttle Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum," said NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden. "The U.S.S. Intrepid had a rich history with NASA's mission, and Enterprise – the pathfinder for the Space Shuttle Program – belongs in this historic setting. Enterprise, along with the rest of our shuttle fleet, is a national treasure and it will help inspire the next generation of explorers as we begin our next chapter of space exploration."
Bolden announced April 12 that Intrepid was one of four institutions nationwide to receive a shuttle. Enterprise, which was the prototype vehicle and used in NASA’s approach and landings tests, will move from the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center to New York. The shuttle will be flown from Washington to JFK International Airport atop NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. It then will be transported during the summer of 2012 by barge to the Intrepid museum complex located at Pier 86 of the Hudson River Park, and placed on the Intrepid’s flight deck under a protective covering. The public will have the ability to see the shuttle while visiting the museum.
At the Dec. 11 ceremony, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said, "As we take our first steps on a path toward a new era of space exploration, we want to ensure that the treasures of our past achievements inspire generations of leaders – the people who will visit asteroids, walk on Mars and launch the next science satellites to explore our solar system and peer beyond it. It's NASA's pleasure to transfer to Intrepid the title to the space shuttle Enterprise. With the last flight of the Space Shuttle Program in July, the shuttle era came to an end, but that won’t stop these marvelous spacecraft from inspiring millions of people from around the world who will visit them in the geographically diverse areas that will house them. The orbiters won’t stop being part of the fabric of America."
Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility in September, 1976 and was used to test critical phases of landing and other aspects of shuttle preparations. The Approach and Landing Test, or ALT, program involved both ground tests and flight tests. Enterprise conducted 16 flight tests, from taxi to active free flight. The ground tests included taxi tests of the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft with the Enterprise mated to it to determine structural loads and responses and assess ground handling and control characteristics up to flight takeoff speed. The taxi tests also validated 747 steering and braking with the orbiter attached. A ground test of orbiter systems followed the unmanned captive tests. All orbiter systems were activated as they would be in atmospheric flight in final preparation for the manned captive flight phase. Five captive unmanned flights of the Enterprise mounted on its carrier with its systems inert were conducted to assess the structural integrity and performance handling qualities of the mated craft.
Three manned captive flights followed with astronauts operating the orbiter's flight control systems while the Enterprise remained atop the 747. These flights were designed to exercise and evaluate all systems in the flight environment in preparation for the free flights.
NASA astronauts Fred Haise, Gordon Fullerton, Joe Engle and Dick Truly took turns flying the 150,000-pound spacecraft from February through November 1977 and demonstrated that the orbiter could fly in the atmosphere and land like an airplane.
At Marshall Space Flight Center between March 1978 and March 1979, Enterprise was mated with the external tank and solid rocket boosters and was subjected to a series of vertical ground vibration tests.
At Kennedy Space Center, it was brought to the launch complex, stacked on the mobile launch platform and used to train for maintenance and crew escape procedures.
In later years, Enterprise made an appearance at the Paris Air Show, with stops in Germany, England, Italy and Canada. Enterprise also was put on display in April 1984 at the World's Fair in New Orleans. Enterprise has been to more NASA centers and other places around the world than any other orbiter. In 1985, NASA transferred Enterprise to the National Air & Space Museum.