The space shuttle Discovery, NASA’s longest-lived and most-traveled orbiter, will go to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center just outside Washington, D.C.
The prototype shuttle Enterprise, which currently lives at the Udvar-Hazy Center, will be moved to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York. The USS Intrepid is a retired World War II aircraft carrier that recovered the capsules from the Mercury and Gemini space missions after splashdown.
The shuttle Endeavour will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles after returning from its final flight, which is scheduled to launch April 29.
And the space shuttle Atlantis will retire to the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, where every shuttle mission originated. Its last flight is scheduled for June 28.
“Take good care of our vehicles,” a choked-up Bolden told the cheering crowd at Kennedy Space Center. “They’ve served the nation well, and we at NASA have a deep and abiding relationship and love affair with them that’s hard to put into words.”
Bolden also assured the crowd that “at NASA, we’re also very excited about our future, a future that is bright and open to us because of the Shuttle program.”
“Our commitment to human spaceflight is steadfast. We will continue to lead the world,” he said. “Don’t let anybody, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”
After the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis in June, NASA astronauts will have to rely on Russian and other international vehicles, as well as spacecraft being developed by private companies, to reach the International Space Station.
Image: The space shuttle Enterprise, currently on display at the Smithsonian near Washington, D.C. Credit: Ad Meskens.