NASA's first space shuttle, Enterprise was used in the late 1970s to conduct a series of atmospheric test flights, which proved that the shuttles could safely glide back to Earth without engines. The orbiter never flew in space, and in 1985 it was retired and donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
But following the completion of the space shuttle program last year, the Smithsonian agreed to swap Enterprise for the spacefaring shuttle Discovery, which took up permanent residence in the Udvar-Hazy Center last week. (See pictures: "Space Shuttle Discovery Rolls Into New Home.")
Photograph courtesy Robert Markowitz, NASA
Lighting the Way
Lady Liberty greets the space shuttle Enterprise as the spacecraft sails into New York City atop a modified Boeing 747 Friday morning.
Hundreds of onlookers gathered around the Intrepid museum and other sites along Manhattan's west side to watch Enterprise fly into town.
Even though the orbiter didn't fly a space mission, it's still "an institution in American history," Susan Marenoff-Zausner, Intrepid's president, told the Associated Press.
Enterprise "tested so many different things that without it, travel into space would never have happened."
Photograph by Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
To Boldly Go
With Enterprise riding piggyback, NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft takes off from Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Virginia, Friday morning.
Completed in 1976, Enterprise was originally supposed to have been named Constitution, in honor of the U.S. Constitution's bicentennial. But a write-in campaign by fans of the Star Trek TV series led to the orbiter's current designation.
Photograph courtesy Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution/NASA Mark Avino
During its New York City flyover Friday (pictured), the shuttle soared past the Statue of Liberty, along the Hudson River, and over the George Washington Bridge before landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Enterprise is no stranger to cheering crowds: The orbiter went on tour in 1983, making public appearances in France, Germany, Italy, England, and Canada. The spacecraft also went on display in New Orleans during the 1984 World's Fair.
The Intrepid itself is a retired aircraft carrier that served in World War II as well as during the Vietnam conflict and the Cold War. The military ship was converted into a museum that opened in New York in 1982.
Photograph by Mary Altaffer, AP
Enterprise On Deck
An artist's concept shows what Enterprise will look like on display in the Space Pavilion of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
The pavilion—to be built on Intrepid's flight deck in June—will be the shuttle's temporary home until the museum can construct a permanent facility, according to museum officials. The shuttle is slated to go on public display on July 19.
This fall NASA will fly the space shuttle Endeavour from Florida's Kennedy Space Center to Los Angeles, where the orbiter will join the collection of the California Science Center. The shuttle Atlantis, meanwhile, will remain in Florida and be housed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Illustration courtesy Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum