The Space Shuttle Enterprise, the original NASA orbiter that paved the way for America's successful space shuttle program, is currently undergoing preparations for its April 23rd journey to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
The Enterprise most recently underwent two key installations to help ready the shuttle for aerial transport.
Teams at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center first completed the installation of inoperative orbital maneuvering system pods, which are essential for the aerial transportation of the shuttle from Washington, D.C. to its new home in New York City. These model pods, known as Approach and Landing Test Article (ALTA) pods, are required for airworthiness and will replace the weaker replicas made of wood and fiberglass that outfitted the Enterprise while on display at the National Air and Space Museum.Enterprise
ALTA pods were designed for the Enterprise and used during its approach and landing test flights in 1977. Subsequent shuttles replaced ALTA pods with orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods which were used to steer in space.
Upon landing at Edwards Air Force Base or White Sands Missile Range after a completed mission, a space shuttle's OMS pods would be removed to clean out toxic fuel remnants and ALTA pods would be installed for the ferry flight back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. As a result, the Enterprise's ALTA pods have flown on every single U.S. space shuttle at least once.
The ALTA pods took approximately three days to install.
The teams then completed the detailed task of installing the tailcone onto the rear of the space shuttle. The tailcone, originally designed for the Enterprise, extends the range of NASA's Shuttle Carrier 747 aircraft and smooths the aerodynamics by reducing drag and turbulence during the ferry flight.
The tailcone and ALTA pods will remain outfitted on the Enterprise for display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
"It is truly exciting to see the Enterprise prepare for what will be her final flight, capping off her legacy as the prototype of the United States Space Shuttle Program," said Eric Boehm, Curator, Aviation and Aircraft Restoration at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. "We are thrilled to be a part of history as we get ready to welcome Enterprise to her permanent home in New York City."
Stay tuned for more updates regarding the preparation of the Space Shuttle Enterprise and its arrival to New York City on April 23!
All dates and events are subject to change due to weather and operational delays.
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