Friday, January 15, 2010

Cost to display retired orbiter drops $13.2 million

NASA has dropped the cost to ship and display a retired shuttle orbiter to $28.8 million -- a $13.2 million discount from earlier estimates.

In a revised request for information released today -- read it here -- NASA asked museums and other educational institutions interested in housing an orbiter to explain their plans and how they could pay the cost to transport an orbiter from Kennedy Space Center and prepare it for display.

About 20 organizations replied to the first request for information released about a year ago. NASA would not identify them, but the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has said it is among those interested.

NASA initially estimated the cost to "safe" and transport the vehicles at $42 million.

But the agency has since decided that it will pay for the safing process, which entails cleaning out toxic and explosive propellants and gasses used for flight.

That work would have to be done even if NASA simply kept the orbiters in storage at KSC.

The reduced price of $28.8 million covers ferrying the orbiters atop a 747 to a destination airport and preparing them for public display.

The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. is slated to receive the orbiter Discovery. After receiving Discovery, the museum could choose to loan Enterprise -- an orbiter used for entry and landing tests that did not fly in space -- to another institution.

Atlantis and Endeavour will also become available.

NASA says the orbiters could be ready as early as July 2011, a timeline that assumes President Obama does not change current plans to end the shuttle program and the remaining five flights fly on time this year.

Interested institutions must respond to the request for information by Feb. 19.

NASA has not said when it will announce who wins the right to display the retired orbiters.

This document shows NASA answers to questions asked by respondents.

One interesting question asks if NASA would consider a proposal to purchase an orbiter with the intention of continuing to fly it. Answer: "No."

IMAGE NOTE: At Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 11, space shuttle Endeavour makes its way from Orbiter Processing Facility-2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building. The rollover began at 12:53 a.m. EST and was completed at 2:08 p.m. when Endeavour was towed into the VAB's transfer aisle. Next, Endeavour will be attached to a lifting sling, hoisted over a transom and lowered into High Bay 1, where it will be attached to its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters. Rollout of the shuttle stack to Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39A, a significant milestone in launch processing activities, is planned for early January 2010. The Italian-built Tranquility module, the primary payload for Endeavour's STS-130 mission, will be installed in the payload bay after the shuttle arrives at the pad. Launch is targeted for Feb. 7. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis


Anonymous said...

Fire sale?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex should absolutely receive one of the orbiters. Let's just hope by the time this happens, Delaware North is not running the place. It would be a shame to let this company have responsibility over taking care of a piece of history such as the orbiter. They are sure to run it into the ground like they have the rest of the exhibits at the Visitor's Complex. I hope NASA sees through Delaware North's phony attempt to actually care about the property and choose another contractor to run the place. Just look at the Rocket Garden! Its a rusty mess that needs better care, but the DNC "powers that be" just don't want to spend the money. Why?...well the contract is almost over, why should we!? It's just plain sad.

Anonymous said...

What do I need to do to put you in a shuttle, today?

We'll throw in free undercoating.

Anonymous said...

We should sink one off the keys and make it an artificial reef, it would be a mecca for scuba divers, good for tourism, good the state.