A closer look at the space shuttle that never got to space

Posted by K R on

The space shuttle Enterprise has been ensconced aboard the USS Intrepid for just over two years. It sits in a silent warehouse, dramatically lit so it appears to be cruising in a dark vacuum. Tourists can wander around or under it at the exhibit; they can even walk up some stairs and get nose-to-nose with the Enterprise, staring down its long axis through a thick layer of glass. While the whole thing evokes space exploration, the Enterprise has never actually made it out of Earth's atmosphere. The shuttle on display has the distinction of being one of NASA's biggest workhorses despite earning perhaps the least amount of glory among the entire space shuttle fleet. So while visitors look closely at the Enterprise, they can see what has stopped it from earning more prestige and examine the scars its body has retained from experimentation during its years in service from 1976 through 2012. Like the USS Enterprise it's named after, the Enterprise shuttle is more or less fake. Where a shuttle's $40 million engines should be, the Enterprise has mere mockups, covered by a cone for aerodynamic purposes. A shuttle should be speckled with reaction control system thrusters to help maintain or change its orientation in space. But since the Enterprise has always been Earth-bound, it has nothing but covered holes. More via Ars Technica.

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