NASA Announces Permanent Homes For Shuttles

April 12, 2011

NPR Staff and Wires

Matt Stroshane
Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off from Kennedy Space Center on May 14, 2010, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Space Center Houston plans to build a new exhibit to house the space shuttle.
SRG Partnership
Seattle's Museum of Flight has already begun construction on its new Space Gallery, seen here in an architect's rendering, to put a shuttle on permanent display. NASA hasn't yet said where the shuttles will go once they're retired.
PGAV Destinations
This concept illustration for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex shows how a space shuttle might be displayed, if NASA decides to award one to the facility.
Dan Patterson
Cold War-era planes on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, near Dayton, Ohio. The museum is one of many in the country vying to display one of NASA's retiring space shuttles.
Dane A. Penland
The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum will receive space shuttle Discovery, replacing Enterprise, which is currently on display at the museum. Enterprise, which was not built to fly, will be moved to New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Four lucky museums are celebrating Tuesday's announcement that they will receive a space shuttle after NASA ends its 30-year-old shuttle program. Nearly two dozen museums had hoped to get one of the famous spaceships.

NASA chief Charles Bolden made the announcement at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, whose visitor center will be home to space shuttle Atlantis.

Discovery will go to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum outside Washington, D.C. Endeavour will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

And a test model of the shuttle that never flew in space, Enterprise, will go to New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

"For all of them, take good care of our vehicles," said Bolden, a former astronaut, as he choked up. "They served a nation well, and we at NASA have a deep and abiding relationship and love affair with them that is hard to put into words."

The news came as a disappointment for other museums like Space Center Houston, which had lobbied hard for a shuttle.

NASA has said the spaceships could arrive at their new homes around six to nine months after their last flights. Two more launches are scheduled — Endeavour is set to launch April 29; Atlantis will blast off at the end of June. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit