Where Can I See a Space Shuttle?

NASA had a fleet of five space shuttles that were used for various missions between 1981 and 2011.

After the space shuttle program ended, the surviving space shuttles were placed on display at various museums and space centers around the country.

Have you see space shuttles in any of these places? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of them!

Here is a list of the NASA space shuttles and their locations:

Space Shuttle Enterprise (OV-101):

Built in 1974-1976, Enterprise was the prototype orbiter for NASA’s Space Shuttle program. It was built for the purpose of conducting approach and landing tests to validate the shuttle’s design and flight characteristics.

Enterprise never flew in space, but it played a crucial role in the development of the entire Space Shuttle fleet. Enterprise’s approach and landing tests were conducted at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center (now known as the Armstrong Flight Research Center) in California. These tests helped engineers and pilots understand how the shuttle handled during various stages of flight.

Enterprise is currently on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

Space Shuttle Columbia (OV-102):

First launched on April 12, 1981, Columbia was the first space shuttle to fly and completed a total of 28 missions. Tragically, it was lost during reentry on February 1, 2003, resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members.

Space Shuttle Columbia during a launch in March of 2002

A piece of wreckage from the Columbia, the framework of the shuttle’s cockpit windows, is currently on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099):

Challenger’s maiden flight was on April 4, 1983. However, it suffered a catastrophic failure 73 seconds after liftoff during its 10th mission on January 28, 1986, leading to the loss of its seven crew members.

A piece of wreckage from the Challenger, a section of the shuttle’s left fuselage, is currently on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Space Shuttle Discovery (OV-103):

Discovery’s first flight took place on August 30, 1984. It completed 39 missions, making it one of the most flown shuttles in the fleet. Its final mission was STS-133, which launched on February 24, 2011.

In April of 2012, NASA transferred Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution after a delivery flight over the nation’s capital.

Discovery is currently on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. Also on display at the center is the Gemini 4 capsule, the Freedom 7 capsule and the Friendship 7 capsule from the Mercury program.

Space Shuttle Atlantis (OV-104):

Atlantis began its service on October 3, 1985. It flew a total of 33 missions, including the final space shuttle mission, STS-135, which launched on July 8, 2011.

Atlantis’ final mission, STS-135, delivered supplies and equipment to the ISS and marked the end of the 30-year shuttle program.

Atlantis is currently on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Also on display at the space center is the hatch from the Apollo 1 capsule, the Apollo 14 capsule, the Gemini 9A capsule and the Sigma 7 capsule from the Mercury program and a Saturn V rocket.

Space Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105):

Endeavour was the youngest shuttle in the fleet, making its first flight on May 7, 1992. Endeavor was built as a replacement for the Space Shuttle Challenger which was destroyed when it suffered a catastrophic failure during liftoff in 1986.

Endeavour completed 25 missions and its final flight was STS-134, which launched on May 16, 2011.

Endeavour is currently on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California. Also on display at the center is the Gemini 11 capsule.

After December 31, 2023, Endeavour will not be on display for several years while its new home at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center is being constructed.

The space shuttle program played a significant role in human spaceflight, carrying out a wide range of missions, including deploying satellites, conducting scientific research, and constructing and servicing the International Space Station (ISS).

However, the program was retired in 2011, and since then, NASA has relied on other vehicles and partners to transport astronauts and cargo to and from space.

Sources:
“Forever Remembered.” Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, kennedyspacecenter.com/explore-attractions/shuttle-a-ship-like-no-other/forever-remembered
“Experience Endeavour.” California Science Center, californiasciencecenter.org/exhibits/endeavour-experience
“Space Shuttle Atlantis Zone.” Kennedy Space Center, kennedyspacecenter.com/explore-attractions/shuttle-a-ship-like-no-other
“Space Shuttle Atlantis.” Kennedy Space Center, kennedyspacecenter.com/explore-attractions/shuttle-a-ship-like-no-other/featured-attraction/space-shuttle-atlantis
“Space Shuttle Discovery.” National Air and Space Museum, airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/orbiter-space-shuttle-ov-103-discovery/nasm_A20120325000
“Retired Shuttle Locations.” NASA, nasa.gov/topics/shuttle_station/features/shuttle_map.html

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