NASA Shuttles to Land at Tourist Destinations Across the Country

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NASA officials announced on Tuesday that a trip of retired and soon-to-be retired space shuttles will soon land at their permanent homes at tourist destinations across the nation.

The Discovery flew its final flight last month and is headed to the Smithsonian for display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport, while the Endeavour will come in for its ultimate landing at the California Science Center after it completes its final space trip later this month.

The Atlantis will find its permanent home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida when it retires later this year.

The New York Times reported an audience at the Kennedy Center erupted into "jubilant cheering and whooping" as the destination for Atlantis' was announced, while those at the Museum of Flight in Seattle – which had already begun construction of a new wing that it hoped would house the orbiter – were not as lucky.

The $10 million exhibit for Atlantis will become the new hallmark of a 10-year master plan for the space center. Design concepts for the space center's new 65,000 square-foot display include showing the orbiter "in flight" from several vantage points so visitors can see how it worked in space.

"Guests will be close enough to almost touch this real space flow orbiter," says Bill Moore, Chief Operating Officer of the space center in a press release.

The Endeavour, on the other hand, will become the centerpiece of a 10-year master plan at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, reports the Los Angeles Daily News. According to NASA, the shuttle has traveled 115 million miles during 25 flights, carrying 139 people into orbit.

Twenty-one institutions across the country had put in bids for one of the shuttles. Those who did not receive actual ships may still be able to get piece of hardware from the shuttle program – including the Seattle museum, which will get a full-size mock-up that is used for astronaut training.

"I want to congratulate all of these fine institutions and wish them many visitors and exciting programs with the space shuttle fleet. For all of them, take good care of our vehicles. They've served the nation well and we at NASA have a deep and abiding relationship and love affair with them that's hard to put into words," says NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

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