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Space shuttle Enterprise readies for today's NYC flyover

April 27, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • The space shuttle Enterprise is attached to NASA's modified 747 at Washington Dulles International Airport as it awaits its journey to New York.
The space shuttle Enterprise is attached to NASA's modified 747 at… (Bill Ingalls / NASA )

The space shuttle Enterprise has two big thumbs up: Both NASA and the FAA have given clearance to transport the shuttle to New York City on Friday morning, setting the stage for a dramatic flyover of the world's most famous skyline.

The Big Apple has been waiting for this moment all week. The shuttle Enterprise was originally supposed to arrive Monday, and then Wednesday. But bad weather scuttled those plans. It's now scheduled to occur today between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Eastern. NASA will be live Tweeting it here.

A specially modified 747 will deliver the Enterprise via the ultimate piggy-back ride: The Enterprise will be "mated" atop the 747, and the pair will then take off from Dulles International Airport near Washington, headed for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Photo gallery: The space shuttle program from 1972-2011

There will also be plenty of photo ops: The aircraft will fly near a variety of landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty.

If the name Enterprise sounds familiar, that's because the craft was named after the fictional starship Enterprise from the 1960 sci-fi series "Star Trek." The Enterprise is one of four NASA shuttles that are going on display at various places throughout the United States.

Technically, however, the Enterprise isn't a real space shuttle. It was a prototype -- a test orbiter that never flew into space. The Enterprise was critical to the tests necessary to verify orbiter aerodynamics and handling characteristics in preparation for orbital flights that followed with space shuttle Columbia.

The highly anticipated NYC flyover comes as the shuttle heads to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum this summer in Manhattan.

Last week, the space shuttle Discovery was delivered to Dulles, en route to its final resting place at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

Two other shuttles were also awarded after a fierce political battle that roiled Washington: The California Science Center in Los Angeles will get one; the other will go to the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

After the Enterprise is delivered to JFK, it will be moved via tugboat up the Hudson River to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Its arrival there is scheduled for sometime in June, and will involve another spectacle: The Enterprise will be hoisted, via crane, to the deck of the legendary carrier Intrepid. The 900-foot-long aircraft carrier was pressed into duty during World War II and the Vietnam War and also served as a recovery vessel for NASA's space program. The ship, which was retired in 1974, is the crown jewel of the museum; it's also on the National Park Service’s National Historic Landmark register.

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