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Space Shuttle Swan Songs: Enterprise and Discovery Fly their Final Missions [Slide Show]

Washington, D.C. and New York City greet the retiring shuttles
Discovery shuttle



Ken Kremer www.kenkremer.com

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New Yorkers who look up today can catch a glimpse of history. The Enterprise space shuttle will be flown along the Hudson River and around the metropolitan area on its way to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, a stopover on its final journey to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan. A modified Boeing 747 is ferrying the shuttle from its former home in Washington, D.C.

View a slide show of the retiring space shuttles

Earlier this week more than 10,000 people gathered to see Enterprise and Discovery outside the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Discovery, whose final flight last year marked the third-to-last mission of the retiring space shuttle fleet, has moved into a new home at the center. Discovery flew 39 missions in 27 years, setting both the record for most missions and longest-serving space shuttle.

Enterprise, named after the Star Trek TV series' starship, was the first full-scale prototype of a space shuttle orbiter. Although it never left Earth's atmosphere, Enterprise served as a test craft, allowing NASA to learn crucial lessons before sending Discovery and other shuttles into space. This will be the shuttle's second visit to the city. In 1983 Enterprise passed over Manhattan on a return trip from the Paris Air Show.

Those eager to welcome Enterprise to New York should be able to view the shuttle from across the metropolitan area. For security reasons, the exact flight plan is not being shared, but according to the web site NYCAviation.com, which cites a flight itinerary obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration, Enterprise is scheduled to fly along the Hudson River from the Statue of Liberty north to Tarrytown, N.Y., possibly arcing back around over Manhattan and Long Island before landing at JFK. The schedule suggests the shuttle should be crisscrossing the city between 9:30 and 11:30 A.M. After arriving at JFK, Enterprise is scheduled to be transferred by barge to its temporary home on the flight deck of the Intrepid aircraft carrier in June. Future plans call for it to be housed in its own permanent enclosure at the museum.

Photos by Ken Kremer

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