NY museum opens space shuttle Enterprise to public

A New York aerospace museum opened the space shuttle Enterprise to the public Thursday.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum has installed the space shuttle on the runway of the aircraft carrier "Intrepid", a museum facility docked at a pier on Manhattan's West Side.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden and museum president Susan Marenoff-Zausner presided over the exhibit's opening ceremony Thursday, joined by three of Enterprise's original four pilots.

The ceremony launched the museum's five-day space festival, with exhibits and educational demonstrations to usher in its latest acquisition.

NASA retired Enterprise, a prototype completed in 1976, from its nearly four-decade tenure as a test craft this year, after its flight over the Manhattan skyline, past the Statue of Liberty to New York's JFK airport in April.

In June, the craft was transported from the airport to the museum by barge.

During Enterprise's time in service, two space shuttles were destroyed -- Space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch in 1986, and Columbia broke up upon reentry into the Earth's atmosphere in 2003. Thirteen astronauts died in the tragedies.

Space shuttle Discovery was flown to Washington last April. Discovery is open to the public at a headquarters of the National Air and Space Museum in nearby Virginia.

Space shuttle Endeavour is now on view at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, and space shuttle Atlantis is available at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida.

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