NASA’s space shuttles have rolled out of their hangars and into museums.
They aren’t alone. For 35 years, NASA’s only full-length shuttle trainer was used to familiarize astronauts with life in space. But with the shuttle program over, the Full Fuselage Trainer has moved to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, and it began its new role this weekend: teaching the public about how NASA readies its crews for launch, in the past and maybe in the future.
The full-size shuttle trainer was used for three decades by more than 350 astronauts. Now just about everyone can board it; museum visitors can access the payload bay, the crew compartment and the flight deck.
Earlier this month, the last of the space shuttles to fly, Atlantis, became the last to move to its new retirement home, just 10 miles away at Kennedy Space Center’s main tourist site.
Below is a summary of the shuttles in the order they flew and the places they ended up:
Enterprise: A shuttle prototype used in jetliner-drop tests over Edwards Air Force Base in California in 1977, it never flew in space. Originally on display at a Smithsonian Institution hangar in Virginia, Enterprise was flown to New York City in April and moved into the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in June. It suffered minor damage to the vertical stabilizer (or tail) from Superstorm Sandy.
Columbia: Destroyed during descent on Feb. 1, 2003 — killing all seven astronauts — Columbia flew 28 missions stretching back to 1981. The wreckage is stored in NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center for research purposes.
Challenger: Destroyed during launch on Jan. 28, 1986 — killing all seven aboard — Challenger flew 10 missions dating to 1983. The wreckage is buried in a pair of abandoned missile silos at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Discovery: This shuttle moved to a Smithsonian Institution hangar in Northern Virginia in April after 39 missions dating to 1984.
Atlantis: On Nov. 2, this shuttle moved to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center after 33 missions stretching back to 1985.
Endeavour: The replacement for shuttle Challenger was flown to Los Angeles in September and moved into the California Science Center in October after 25 missions dating to 1992.
Sources: The Associated Press, NASA, NWCN.com, NBCNews.com