NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you’ve never seen a space shuttle up close and personal, now is your chance.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Story

The Space Shuttle Pavilion officially opened Thursday at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Three months after making its grand entrance in the Big Apple, the public is now able to get a first hand look at the space shuttle Enterprise.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports

A grand opening ceremony kicked off the opening of the exhibit, and a whole day of activities is planned.

Nine-year-old Evan Kaplan, all suited up for takeoff, was one of the first to see the space ship. Kaplan arrived early to meet with astronauts before getting a close-up glimpse of the Enterprise, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.

“The closest I’ve been is when it was flying over my head,” Kaplan said.

“We’ve been to Cape Canaveral and now it’s up here, so it’s at home in our backyard so it’s great,” visitor Dawn Decker told Brown.

Enterprise ribbon-cutting ceremony July 19, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

The Enterprise opened to the public 43 years to the day after Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Astronaut Charlie Comarda logged more than 300 hours in space before the shuttle program ended.

“I think we need to regain the innovative spirit that we had back in the Apollo era,” he said. “NASA still has that luster, still has that brand name and anything we could do to hook kids — once we hook them, we have to have something to keep that curiosity, that thirst for knowledge going forward.”

Comarda said he considers this exhibit the perfect opportunity.

The infamous shuttle was never actually sent to space, but instead was used as a test spacecraft.

In April, it was flown to New York from Virginia on the back of a 747 and was welcomed to the Big Apple with cheers and fanfare.

The museum is charging an extra $6 on top of its regular admission price to view the shuttle.

“It’d be nice if people could get in for free, they paid for it,” said tourist Brad Chelf.

Museums in Florida, California and near Washington DC also got shuttles from NASA, but are not charging extra for their exhibits.

The Intrepid Foundation said it doesn’t receive the same level of public funding as other museums that received shuttles. Museum president Susan Marenoff-Zausner also said bringing the shuttle to New York cost $12 million.

“This will bring tremendous economic impact back to the city, and for what it is that we’re offering, we feel it’s pretty reasonable,” she said.

The Intrepid is also trying to raise millions to build a permanent home for the shuttle, perhaps in a new building across the West Side Highway.

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