|Hundreds of visitors joined leadership from NASA on the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum today to celebrate the official reopening of the redesigned and rebuilt Space Shuttle Pavilion, showcasing the space shuttle Enterprise, NASA's original orbiter that paved the way for America's successful shuttle program.
The official ribbon cutting ceremony and public reopening of the Space Shuttle Pavilion took place almost nine months after the original structure housing Enterprise was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
"After months of hard work by our entire Intrepid Museum team following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, we are thrilled to welcome visitors back for an up-close view of the magnificent space shuttle Enterprise," said Susan Marenoff-Zausner, President of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. "The new Space Shuttle Pavilion exhibition offers visitors a unique educational experience, revealing new details about the fascinating history behind the shuttle program and the one and only Enterprise."
The space shuttle Enterprise was NASA's first orbiter, a prototype that conducted critical tests within Earth's atmosphere in 1977. These pioneering tests paved the way for the successful orbital flights of later shuttles, beginning with the first flight of the space shuttle Columbia in 1981. Following the retirement of the shuttles in 2011, NASA awarded Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
"Hurricane Sandy affected many of us in the greater New York area, including our friends at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum," said Frank Scalzo, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director of Education and head of the New York City Research Initiative. "Space shuttle Enterprise weathered the storm just fine, thanks to the team at Intrepid. Since that time, they have worked hard to restore their valuable collection of aerospace artifacts. Enterprise is in good hands and is ready to renew its new mission of inspiring future space explorers. We hope everyone has a chance to visit the new pavilion and experience this important part of NASA's space exploration history."
The new Pavilion is 230-feet long and 65-feet high, with steel construction throughout the climate-controlled space. On an expanded viewing platform, visitors are still able to walk underneath and around Enterprise, whose nose gear remains elevated as if in mid-landing.
The Pavilion includes seventeen dynamic, content-rich exhibit zones enhanced by original artifacts, photographs, and films. New features immerse visitors of all ages in the sights, sounds, and stories of the history of NASA's shuttle program and of Enterprise.
Upon entering the Pavilion, visitors travel through a soundscape featuring actual conversations between mission control and the Enterprise pilots during flight tests. An Education Zone provides a dedicated area for the talented Museum educators and tour guides to enhance many of the stories presented in the Pavilion.
Sections will include:
- Space Shuttle Fleet: a look at all the orbiters, from Enterprise to Atlantis
- Talent of the Shuttle Program: the stories of the men and women who built, launched, flew and cared for the orbiters
- Soyuz and the Space Shuttle Compared: invites visitors to compare the shuttle and a space-flown Soyuz capsule, scarred by re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere after its voyage into space.
- Space Shuttle's Influence on Everyday Life: the technological innovations that have been translated for commercial and consumer use
- The Science Behind the Shuttle Design: explores the early concepts of reusable winged spacecraft through actual wind tunnel models
- Transporting Orbiter: Between launches, how does a shuttle return to the launch pad?
The new Pavilion will also showcase space shuttle cockpit instrumentation, providing visitors a sense of Enterprise's flight deck.
Highlights from the former Pavilion remain, including a short film narrated by actor Leonard Nimoy.
Enterprise will remain in the Pavilion until a permanent exhibit facility is built.
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