[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.

Space shuttle orbiter Enterprise, on display at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, is up for grabs

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.

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  • Guest

    Cool! Hope it lands in Seattle!

  • Colin Meyer

    If we get the shuttle, I hope that the MoF displays it better than they do the Concord. I was super excited to see the Concord, but ended up being quite disappointed that I didn’t get to sit in a seat or enter the cockpit (hard to see much from the plexiglass covered door).

  • Isaac Alexander

    Colin, one of the reasons why the Museum of Flight set up the Concorde like this is because some members of the general public are not ethical and steal items from the aircraft. That is why the cockpit is walled off like it is. Example, I went to the Evergreen Museum in Oregon and was touring the Spruce Goose and talking to one of the docents. They used to have anyone get into the cockpit there but had to wall it off because people were taking items from it. Same thing could happen to the Concorde. Not being able to sit in the seats is understandable because if everyone kept sitting down on them, they’d be worn away and would need to be replaced. I’d like to sit in all the seats of the plane myself, but I’d rather the aircraft be preserved and toured for as long as possible. Ideally, I wish it was still flying and I had the money to take a ride in it.

    Now, as for the shuttle, it’s 50/50 if it comes. I’m happy we’re getting the Space Shuttle Trainer from Houston. If we do get a shuttle, it’ll probably be Enterprise instead of Endeavor.

  • daphne

    Wow, what a great addition to the fun things to do in Seattle. Thanks for the update Sarah, can’t think of a better place than the Museum of Flight for the possible (perminate) landing of the Shuttle!

  • Joe the Coder

    I hope we get it but won’t be surprised if we don’t.

    Most museums with aircraft on display don’t allow people in the cockpit or other sensitive areas. Even if people were 100% ethical, it’s a lot wear and tear.

    Now, I bet it you went to them and said “I’ll donate 10,000 dollars” they would say “step right this way…”. Or, you could get involved in the museum as a volunteer and keep your eyes peeled for an opportunity – somebody has to dust the thing. My point here is that Joe Random off the street doesn’t have a chance but if you actually get involved you just might.

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