Space Shuttle Enterprise Damaged On Way to New Home

Jun 5, 2012 1:34pm
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Wing of space shuttle Enterprise (left) scraping against piling. Image credit: Dennis Jenkins/collectspace.com

The wing of the space shuttle Enterprise was damaged on its journey from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan.

The shuttle was en route to a New Jersey marina, its first destination on a two-part trip, when the tip of the wing scraped a piling in Jamaica Bay.

“While approaching the railroad bridge, a sudden microburst of wind, measured at 35 knots, caused the rub panel foam protective layer of the wingtip of the Enterprise to graze the protective wood piling bumpers in the water,” Luke Sacks, a spokesman for the Intrepid Museum, said in a statement. “The bridge was not involved. There was no damage to the bridge and light cosmetic damage to the protective layer.”

Though the accident put a damper on the Enterprise’s trip, Sacks says it will not slow down its progress.

“It will not have an impact on the timing for arrival or display at Intrepid — both are moving ahead as scheduled,” Sacks said.

After a brief stay at the New Jersey marina, the Enterprise will be transported up the Hudson River to its new home, where it will lifted by crane onto the Intrepid, a retired Navy aircraft carrier.

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                                                                        Image credit: Michael Nagle/Getty Images

The Enterprise’s long journey began in April at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., where it was on display.  The Smithsonian is becoming the home of the shuttle Discovery, which flew 39 times in space from 1984 to 2011.  Enterprise, the first shuttle to be built, was used for landing tests in the late 1970s.

When the Enterprise left the Smithsonian, it was placed nose to nose with Discovery in what the Intrepid Museum described as a “historic moment” and an “emotional send off.”

The Enterprise then traveled to Kennedy Airport on the back of a NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747.  The airport is about 20 miles from the museum.

Despite the damage done to its wing, the Enterprise is expected to arrive at the Intrepid Museum later this month. It will be displayed to the public beginning in July.

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