Where will the shuttles go?
How many were built?
How many shuttles survive?
How many mockups were built? — where are they?
What was OV-95? — where did it fly?
Five shuttles were built and three survive. The order in which they came into the fleet is as follows:
COLUMBIA = OV-102 … Columbia broke up as it was preparing to land and was lost, along with its entire crew, over southeastern Texas on February 1, 2003.
CHALLENGER == OV-99 … Challenger broke up and was lost, along with its entire crew, over the Atlantic Ocean shortly after launch on January 28, 1986.
DISCOVERY = OV-103 … the oldest surviving Orbiter will go to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport early in 2012. Currently hazmat materials, useful instruments and other parts that may be of later use are being removed at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Discovery has been in one of three hangars at Kennedy Space Center.
ATLANTIS = OV-104 … the second oldest surviving Orbiter, and the fourth of four originally built, will stay at the Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis will be the final shuttle to fly and is scheduled to be launched on July 8, 2011.
ENDEAVOUR == OV-105 … the youngest in the fleet, and by all accounts in very good shape “with quite a lot of life still left in her”, according to one NASA official. Endeavour will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She completed her final mission on June 1, 2011, landing at KSC at 2:32 am. Endeavour was built as a replacement when The Challenger was lost in 1986 and joined the fleet in 1991.
Where were the shuttles built?
All five shuttles were built in Palmdale, California, south of Edwards Air Force Base where shuttles originally landed during test flights, and on the earliest missions, prior to construction of the SLF (shuttle landinf facility = runway) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Later Edwards, and White Sands, New Mexico, were backup landing sites, and both were occasionally used.
Unlike the original four shuttles, construction of the Endeavour was speeded by availablily of replacement parts for the first four shuttles. Strictly speaking, unlike the first four, Endeavour was not built from scratch.
ENTERPRISE = OV-101 == Isn’t New York City getting a shuttle? —
where did THAT shuttle come from?
New York is getting a shuttle, but then again, it isn’t. New York will get the shuttle, Enterprise, currently on display at the Smithsonian. Enterprise never flew in space, but did fly in Earth atmosphere in test flights. Enterprise will be moved to New York and placed on display there. It’s a shuttle, but it was never an operational shuttle that flew in space, unlike the other three surviving shuttles. The shuttle New York City will get was an important vehicle in the development of the shuttle; it’s not some cardboard cut-out dummy, and it came close to having a life of its own in space not once, but twice. An excellent telling of the Enterprise’s history, and how it nearly became an operation shuttle itself is HERE.
EXPLORER (Mockup) ==
Why didn’t Texas, with Mission Control located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, get a shuttle?
There were only so many to go around and the prevailing thought is: politics: Texas didn’t vote for President Obama in 2008.
The shuttle mockup, Explorer, began its trip to Houston on December 1, 2011. Its name was painted out prior to the move from the Kennedy Visitors Center.
Texas is, however, getting a shuttle mockup.
The Explorer, a high definition shuttle mockup built and on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center, is on its way to Houston. It was moved from the Visitors Center in Florida to Pad 39 Media Parking lot adjacent to the KSC turning basin on December 11, 2011.
It will be shipped by barge to Galveston, and then moved overland to the Johnson Space Center in Spring 2012.
OV-95 = SAIL The Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory Shuttle This was the first shuttle to “fly” although it never flew in space. OV-95 was an exact mechanical replica of the other shuttles and used both to test systems and to fly (on the ground in tandem) beginning with a shuttle lift-off. SAIL was located in Houston. When STS-135 landed, it was broken up, the wiring re-cycled and the remainder discarded.
PATHFINDER (mockup) == (unofficially OV-98) This mockup was used to test road clearances and other non-operational spacial issues related to how the shuttle could and would be moved. At various times, after its use, it was in Japan and Florida and today is in Alabama on display. More about the Pathfinder can be found HERE.
There is logic in where all of the shuttles are going
— but that logic only goes so far:
Endeavour: The shuttles were built just north of Los Angeles so they get Endeavour
Atlantis: the shuttles were launched from KSC so they get Atlantis
Discovery: The Smithsonian always gets the premier aircraft, as they should, so they get Discovery, the oldest survivor in the fleet.
And then there’s New York City.
How did they manage to get a shuttle, albeit not an operational shuttle? Three shuttles on the east coast and one on the west? None in the midwest? Well, New York DID vote for Obama in 2008 … and …
More on the OV (“Orbiter Vehicle”) designation number can be found HERE.
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