July 4, 2012
— When NASA's space shuttle Enterprise goes on display later this month at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, visitors will be able to view the original prototype orbiter from all angles, including from above and below.
Enterprise, which flew atmospheric approach and landing tests in the late 1970s to prove the pathway home for its sister space-worthy shuttles, will make its debut inside the Intrepid's new "Space Shuttle Pavilion" on Thursday, July 19. The climate-controlled, pressurized fabric shelter was inflated over Enterprise on June 21, two weeks after the shuttle was delivered to the converted aircraft carrier. The pavilion sits on the rear of the Intrepid's flight deck.
Inside the pavilion, museum-goers will discover Enterprise displayed 10 feet (3 meters) above the deck floor, allowing visitors to walk directly underneath the shuttle. Or, if they prefer, guests can ascend to a viewing platform positioned near Enterprise's nose to get an up-close overhead look at the iconic spacecraft.
Webcam view of the inflated pavilion covering the space shuttle Enterprise on the deck of the Intrepid in NYC. (Intrepid/Earthcam)
According to the Intrepid, dramatic lighting and a series of backlit images and video stations will highlight Enterprise inside its display as "a vehicle that continues to enable a greater understanding of science and technology."
"The exhibition brings to life the remarkable story of the Enterprise as the original prototype space shuttle orbiter in relation to NASA's historic role in experimental aircraft throughout the twentieth-century," according to the Intrepid in a press release. "The experience will inspire visitors of all ages, offering an unforgettable look at the past, present and future of space missions."
To celebrate the grand opening of Enterprise's exhibit, the Intrepid is hosting a four day "Spacefest," sponsored by Samsung, that will offer more than 40 interactive displays, activities and exhibitions.
SAMSUNG Spacefest at the Intrepid museum will offer more than 40 interactive displays, activities and exhibitions from Thursday, July 19 through Sunday, July 22. (Intrepid/collectSPACE)
The festival kicks off July 18, the night before the Space Shuttle Pavilion opens to the public, with a free concert on Intrepid's flight deck. The music will feature cutting edge, eclectic and curatorial concerts and DJ sets, and will be based on the EDM and indie rock global scenes.
The next day, the Intrepid will formally open Enterprise's pavilion during an 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) ribbon cutting. A group of shuttle astronauts will be on hand, including several native New Yorkers, including Ellen Baker, Mario Runco, Charles Camarda and Mike Massimino.
The astronauts will then be on-hand through Sunday (July 22) for meet and greet opportunities as the public tours the new shuttle pavilion and the exhibits that are part of the Spacefest. Among the NASA-loaned displays will be full size models of Mars rovers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, the latter set to land on the Red Planet next month.
Opening day tickets
All of the "SAMSUNG SpaceFest" activities are free with admission to the Intrepid, which runs $24 for adults.
Entrance to the Space Shuttle Pavilion with Enterprise as its centerpiece adds $6 to the regular ticket price (visitors can save $2 by purchasing tickets online).
Rendering of space shuttle Enterprise as it'll be displayed on the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. (Intrepid)
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum complex, which is located on Pier 86 on Manhattan's west side, includes the 900-foot-long World War II aircraft carrier with seven full decks and four theme halls, the guided missile submarine Growler, and a collection of 27 aircraft including the A-12 Blackbird and a British Airways Concorde.
The Intrepid is the latest and — by all plans — last home for Enterprise, which previously was exhibited at the 1983 Paris Air Show in France, the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans, and most recently at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Enterprise's relocation to New York City was part of NASA's selection of museums for the permanent public display of its retired space shuttle fleet.
Visit shuttles.collectspace.com for continuing coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.