A Behind-The-Scenes Tour Of The New Space Shuttle Exhibition

Enterprise

One month after arriving at its new home in New York City on the Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise opens to the public on Thursday.  

We were among the very first to get an up-close look at the space vehicle, which is parked under a huge pavilion on the aircraft carrier’s flight deck.  

The NASA prototype never flew in space. Instead, it was used in many different ground and flight tests that helped advance the shuttle program.  

Still, it’s an incredible historic artifact. 

Welcome to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The space shuttle is housed in the rear of Intrepid's flight deck under a giant inflatable canopy.

The big white tent is climate-controlled to protect Enterprise from all the elements.

Once inside, we zipped right on through to the good stuff since there were no lines.

Enterprise is at the centre of the tent with its nose facing the Hudson River.

The circumference of the pavilion is lined with backlit images and text that tell the story of Enterprise and other space missions.

Enterprise was the prototype for all space orbiters. It never flew in space but was used in a handful of approach and landing tests during the 1970s.

For tests, it was carried into the sky by a modified Boeing 747. If you recall, at the end of April, Enterprise was flown from Washington D.C. to JFK Airport on the back of a 747.

A viewing platform lets visitors get an up-close, eye-level look at the shuttle.

Here's the historic aircraft's exterior from the other side.

You can almost go nose-to-nose with the shuttle. There's a piece of glass that prevents any actual touching.

You can also walk right under the belly of the aircraft, which sits just 10 feet off the ground.

Here's the rear of the space ship. Enterprise's tail is 57 feet high.

Each wing stretches 78 feet across.

Nearby is a six-minute presentation on the history of space travel.

There was some funky music playing from this speaker above a video station.

Here's a shot of the landing gear.

Former NASA astronaut Fred Haise was also hanging around. Bill Paxton played the role of Haise as lunar module pilot in the film Apollo 13.

Once you leave the pavilion, there are about 40 different NASA exhibits scattered around the flight deck that guests can visit for free. (It costs $6 for adults and $4 for kids to get into the pavilion.)

Samsung gave us a sneak preview of their interactive exhibit, which simulates a journey from Earth to Mars and back. It's hard to see in the picture, but the ceiling is actually displaying a scary asteroid field that we've encountered during our trip. It was kind of a lame version of a Disney World attraction, but we can see how small kids would enjoy the experience.

Of course no museum exhibit is complete without a gift shop, the last thing visitors see before they exit the pavilion. There were some nice blue T-shirts and a bunch of Lego sets for building tiny play space shuttles.

Now see how the Enterprise got to the Intrepid

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