NEW YORK (WCBS 880 / AP) – One space shuttle landed in Florida today but New York City is hoping another will land alongside its aircraft carrier sometime in the future.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports from Manhattan
Space shuttle Discovery aimed for an on-time touchdown Wednesday to wrap up a long flying career. The world’s most-traveled spaceship was due to return to Earth – for the last time ever – three minutes before noon.
NASA’s oldest shuttle has flown 39 missions over nearly 27 years. It’s being retired after this voyage.
Once back at Kennedy Space Center, Discovery will be decommissioned over the next several months and sent to the Smithsonian Institution for display. Endeavour and then Atlantis will fly once more each in the next few months. Then they, too, will be retired. Their final resting places have yet to be chosen.
“I mean there’s no other cultural city like it in the world,” Intrepid museum president Susan Marenoff told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell. “It has almost 50 million visitors, as was the goal by the mayor, and that visitorship is just going to be tremendous as far as providing opportunities to see the shuttle.”
Marenoff points out that there are already a million visitors a year to the Intrepid and with the addition of a space shuttle, that number could double.
It would cost over $28 million to decontaminate and deliver a space shuttle.
Endeavour – scheduled to blast off in less than six weeks – will be moved out to the launch pad Wednesday night.
NASA is under presidential direction to spread its wings beyond low-Earth orbit. The goal is to send astronauts to an asteroid and then Mars in the decades ahead. There is not enough money for NASA to achieve that and maintain the shuttle program at the same time. As a result, the shuttles will stop flying this summer after 30 years.
American astronauts will keep hitching rides to the space station on Russian Soyuz capsules, until private companies are able to provide taxi service to and from orbit. NASA expects to get another nine years out of the space station.
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