The mean streets of Manhattan were a little less busy today, as many stepped outside and looked toward the sky. Early this afternoon a little piece of history headed New York’s way from D.C. on the back of a 747 plane. The Space Shuttle Enterprise, chauffeured by a NASA jet, was sighted all around the city as it took the scenic route to its final destination. The shuttle will have a home aboard the USS Intrepid ship, in the Sea, Air and Space Museum.
via The NY Daily News
The Space Shuttle Enterprise, originally to be called the Constitution, is a shuttle that performed many a test flight for NASA. It ensured that any other shuttle leaving the atmosphere did so safely, but wasn’t capable of doing so itself. Plans were made to modify the Enterprise and make it capable of space travel, but over times, the changes would be too much and far too expensive. Instead, the Enterprise tested different landing methods and also did vibration tests. If the name sounds familiar, though, it’s for good reason. A write-in campaign around the shuttle’s birth had its name changed from the pretty boring Constitution to the Enterprise. Star Trek fans from around the U.S. wrote in and received their wish. Their campaign, however, is rarely mentioned, because it seems President Ford was already a fan of the name. Although the shuttle couldn’t explore space like its sci-fi counterpart, it could fly pretty damn well.
Today, although it made the trip with a little help, the Enterprise lived up to its name proudly. Thousands watched all over the city as it flew over Manhattan, Long Island, New Jersey and more. While it’s pretty awesome and a little strange catching a space shuttle riding a plane, the event is also a little bittersweet. This is the last day the Enterprise will have ever taken flight. What we witnessed was one last comeback out of retirement. Sadly, it is also the result of NASA’s defunding. It is one of the last shuttles NASA found a new home for at the space program’s end. Still, the shuttle will live on and keep the space program’s existence alive in everyone’s memory, hopefully to inspire the next generation to seek the stars and pick up where we left off.
Those who weren’t lucky enough to be in the city can check out footage of the Enterprise’s last flight below!
Mallory "Friday" Soto is the Editor of Cool Sh!t, Joonbug's source for internet culture, tech, charity, and the arts. A former Lit zine editor and comic book fan, she comes from a background of short stories and tales of masked vigilantes. She's a native New Yorker and avid video game fan.