As the space shuttle winds down after a remarkable 30-year run, NASA has announced where each spacecraft will land permanently.
In a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center, where the space shuttles lifted off time and again, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden announced their final destinations.
Discovery is headed to the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Washington D.C. Endeavour is going to the California Space Center in Los Angeles. Atlantis will stay put at the Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex in Orlando. A fourth space shuttle, the prototype Enterprise, will be headed to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.
We want to thank all of the locations that expressed an interest in one of these national treasures, Bolden said. This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind. In the end, these choices provide the greatest number of people with the best opportunity to share in the history and accomplishments of NASA's remarkable Space Shuttle Program. These facilities we've chosen have a noteworthy legacy of preserving space artifacts and providing outstanding access to U.S. and international visitors.
Along with those museums, a number of shuttle artifacts have been allocated to museums and educational institutions. Various shuttle simulators will be distributed to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum of McMinnville, Ore., and Texas A&M's Aerospace Engineering Department. Also, a full fuselage trainer will be given to the Museum of Flight in Seattle
Since the first shuttle flight took place -- exactly thirty years from April 12 -- the five space shuttles Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour have flown more than 130 times, carrying over 350 people. They have hosted a number of firsts, such as the first American woman and the first African American, and been there to launch countless satellites as well as the International Space Station.
Already, the space shuttle Discovery has retired, landing for the final time a month ago. Endeavour's last flight is scheduled for April 29, while Atlantis' last flight is scheduled for June 28. The space shuttle Challenger and Columbia were both lost in tragic accidents.
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, Bolden said during the press conference.