[Update, Tuesday morning: Bad news, space fans: Seattle loses bid for Space Shuttle]
Tomorrow marks the 30 year anniversary of NASA’s first space shuttle launch, Columbia. But Celebration of Human Space Flight won’t be the only party on the block. NASA is using the date to announce the three lucky recipients of the retired orbiters, Atlantis, Endeavour and Enterprise. The Smithsonian Institution is already slated to receive Discovery, NASA’s most seasoned shuttle, and give up Enterprise.
Seattle’s Museum of Flight along with 27 bidders is a contender to receive a shuttle, and according to the Associated Press, Seattle is one of the top bidders. The Museum of Flight, backed by the entire Washington state Congressional delegation, the State House and Senate, and Governor Christine Gregoire, has made a strong argument to receive one of the shuttles on its website.
“We believe that our mission to be the foremost educational air and space museum in the country, along with Washington state’s extensive contributions to aerospace innovation, make us uniquely qualified to be the final home for one of the shuttles. We are eager to hear NASA’s decision,” says the Museum of Flight President and CEO Douglas King, in a news release.
Acquiring a retired space shuttle orbiter doesn’t come cheap. The price tag, having come down from $42 million, is set at $28.8 million, the estimated cost for transporting an orbiter to its final resting place on a modified jumbo jet. For those of you curious about the logistics of transporting a shuttle, check out “How is the shuttle prepped? How will it get here?
Should the Museum of Flight land one of the orbiters, it will live in a new $12 million, 15,500 square foot gallery, set for completion this July.