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Space shuttle Enterprise flies again

Posted at 11:18 AM, Apr 27, 2012

By the CNN Wire Staff

NEW YORK (CNN) — The space shuttle Enterprise swooped across the New York City skyline on Friday, mounted atop a 747 jumbo jet as it headed for city’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as part of its final flight.

The shuttle took off from Virginia’s Dulles International Airport, with a flight plan that includes fly-bys of the Statue of Liberty and other Gotham landmarks. It is ultimately bound for it’s new home at the city’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

The space agency said it will put the shuttle on a barge in a few weeks and float it up the Hudson River to its final home.

The shuttle, which has been on display at a Smithsonian Institute museum near Washington, is the latest to shift locations as NASA sends its fleet into retirement.

Discovery — the most traveled of the shuttles — is replacing Enterprise in the Smithsonian facility.

Completed in 1976, Enterprise was designed as a prototype test vehicle. Test pilots demonstrated that it could fly and land in the atmosphere like airplanes, but the Enterprise never flew in space.

The shuttle was originally to be named the Constitution, but a write-in campaign by fans of the television series “Star Trek” persuaded officials to rename it in honor of the show’s main starship.

NASA sent the shuttle on a tour of Europe and Canada in 1983, and it also appeared in the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. The craft made a brief return to service as a ground test vehicle in 1984 before retiring to the Smithsonian’s collection in 1985.

NASA is preparing to fly space shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles sometime in the second half of the year. Atlantis is being readied for display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

The other two shuttles in the NASA program, Challenger and Columbia, were destroyed in flight.

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