Where to See a Retired Space Shuttle

NASA ended the Space Shuttle Program in July of 2011, when the Space Shuttle Atlantis made its return trip to Earth. The program lasted for 30 years, and had a total of 135 missions. There will not be any more opportunities for you to watch the launch of a Space Shuttle. However, it is still possible for you to take a look at a retired Space Shuttle.

What can you do with a Space Shuttle that will never go on another mission into outer space? You put it on public display! NASA has been making the necessary logistic arrangements in order to get some of the retired Space Shuttles to locations where people can go and see them.

The Space Shuttle Discovery will be moved to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. NASA will officially make the transfer of the Discovery into the Smithsonian’s collection on April 19, 2012.

Discovery made a total of 39 missions, which makes it the most-flown of all the Space Shuttles. It traveled 148,221,675 miles in space, spanned 5,830 orbits of Earth, and was in space for a total of 365 days. This is the shuttle that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, and it was also the shuttle that went on the second mission to service and repair it.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour will be moved to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in the latter part of 2012. The Endeavour completed 25 missions. It traveled 122,883,151 miles in space, spanned 4,671 orbits of Earth, and was in space for a total of 229 days. This is the shuttle that went on the first mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis will be at the Kennedy Space Center. The exhibit will be open sometime in 2013. It will be located in the Shuttle Plaza at the main Visitor Complex. Again, this is the Space Shuttle that made the very last return mission home before the program ended. It completed a total of 33 missions. The Atlantis traveled 125,935,769 miles in space, spanned 4,848 orbits of Earth, and was in space for a total of 306 days. Its very last mission was to bring supplies to the International Space Station.

The Space Shuttle Enterprise will be at the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum in New York City. The Space Shuttle Enterprise was the first full scale prototype of the Space Shuttles, and it never ended up making it into space. It was named after the USS Enterprise NCC-1701.

Image: Space Shuttle Flying Over Earth by BigStock