The now-retired space shuttle orbiters will soon be heading to their new museum homes. April 17, 2012 is the current date planned for a modified Boeing 747 to give a piggyback ride to shuttle Discovery to bring it from Kennedy Space Center to Washington Dulles International Airport, where it will then be towed to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located adjacent to the airport. Just how will this be done? The video above explains the procedure, and of course, this is not the first time a space shuttle has ridden atop the specially designed airplane. Every time a shuttle landed in Edwards Air Force Base in California (54 times) or New Mexico (once), it had to be transported back to Kennedy Space Center via an airplane.
If you are in the Washington DC area, there will be an arrival ceremony, currently planned for April 19. See this link from the more information.
The special airplane, NASA 905, will then be paired up with the test space shuttle, Enterprise, which has been at the Smithsonian, but is now heading to Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. The current date for that flight is April 23, but all the dates are dependent on the weather.
Later this year, probably September, the NASA 905 will bring shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles to the California Science Center. The flight path has not yet been determined, but for those living in the mid-section of the US, be on the lookout for more information of flyovers and places where the shuttle will be stopping during its final flight.
Shuttle Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in Florida.
Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with the Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy podcasts. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.