Shuttle Enterprise to fly over New York
The US space shuttle Enterprise on Friday leaves the US capital atop a Boeing 747 jet for a final flyover of New York City as it heads toward a museum where it will go on display.
The prototype Enterprise, the first shuttle ever built, was completed in 1976 and was used only for atmospheric test flights the following year, so it never flew in space like the other five members of the fleet.
Enterprise is leaving its prior home at a Washington area aviation museum, where the shuttle Discovery last week took its place, and piggybacking aboard a special NASA plane will fly over Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty among other landmarks, the space agency said.
The pair are set to leave Dulles International Airport early Friday and the New York flyover will take place between 9:30-11:30 am (1330 GMT and 1530 GMT) before the shuttle lands at the John F. Kennedy International Airport.
"Several weeks following the arrival, Enterprise will be 'demated' from the 747 and placed on a barge that will be moved by tugboat up the Hudson River to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in June," NASA said in a statement.
The museum is located aboard the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier.
Discovery's dramatic flyover of Washington drew huge camera-snapping crowds, and on April 19 it became the first of the retired shuttle fleet to enter a museum, the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.
Later this year, Endeavour will move from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
The shuttle Atlantis, also still in Florida, will make just a short hop to a new exhibit at the Kennedy Center's visitor complex.
Two other shuttles, Challenger and Columbia, were destroyed in accidents. Challenger disintegrated shortly after liftoff in 1986 and Columbia broke apart on re-entry to Earth in 2003. Both disasters killed everyone on board.
(c) 2012 AFP