New York City is getting its own space shuttle this week.
Space Shuttle Enterprise arrived in New York on Friday morning on the back of a specially modified NASA 747. The shuttle had been scheduled to arrive earlier in the week but NASA pushed it back because of bad weather.
"It's the crosswinds they worry about and gusts. And also rain," said Matt Woods of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, where the shuttle will be going on display this summer. "You know it doesn't fly like a typical aircraft when you have this large 160,000-pound object on its back. The aerodynamics are off a little bit. And they just want to make sure they do it right."
The shuttle will be flown to Kennedy Airport on Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. from Washington D.C., where it has been on display at the Smithsonian Institution. The jumbo jet carrying the shuttle will perform a low-altitude flyover of the shuttle's new hometown, perhaps passing by city landmarks including the Statue of Liberty and the Intrepid.
Enterprise was built as a prototype vehicle for the shuttle program to perform test flights and landings. And, even though this shuttle never actually went into space, the Intrepid Museum's Woods says it's an important acquisition.
"We look at the Enterprise as really the test vehicle that made the rest all possible, that made all the space exploration possible with the Space Shuttle program,” he said. “Without Enterprise, without proving that you could do takeoffs and landings with these things, you never would have gotten further with the program."
After it arrives in New York, Enterprise will be transported in early June from JFK Airport to the Intrepid Museum by barge through the New York Harbor and up the Hudson River. It will then be lifted by crane onto the Intrepid's flight deck. The museum plans to have the shuttle exhibit open to the public by July.
"We're going to design an experience around the outside of the shuttle, but we'll be able to walk under ours here," said Woods. "We'll build some ramp systems, where you can see it from different angles, create a nice lightshow and a defined exhibit route with interactive audio-visuals -- create a whole experience."