The Intrepid unveils the Space Shuttle Enterprise

The Intrepid boasts the year’s biggest museum acquisition in the city—this massive aircraft, which comes to New York from Washington, D.C.

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  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Space Shuttle Enterprise travels along the Hudson River

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Space Shuttle Enterprise travels along the Hudson River

  • Photograph: Courtesy NASA

    The Star Trek cast at the unveiling of the Space Shuttle Enterprise

  • Photograph: Heami Lee

    The Pony Bar

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Space Shuttle Enterprise travels along the Hudson River

Opens July 19, 2012 • Pier 86, Twelfth Ave at 46th St (877-957-7447, intrepidmuseum.org). Mon–Fri 10am–5pm; Sat, Sun 10am–6pm. $24, seniors and U.S. college students $20, veterans $17, children 7–17 $19, children 3–6 $12, children under 3 and retired and active military personnel free.


NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise has arrived at the Intrepid Museum. Walk underneath the huge ship, check out the heat-resistant tiles up close and peep a photo of the Star Trek cast with the aircraft.


RECOMMENDED: Full summer museum exhibit guide


Highlights

Space Shuttle Enterprise

The year’s biggest addition to New York’s museum scene goes on view at the Intrepid this summer. Enterprise will reside in a temporary pavilion on the aircraft carrier’s deck while a permanent home is built (due for completion 2014–15). The ship was never designed to go into space—hence the aerodynamic tail cone instead of rockets—but NASA used it to conduct approach and landing tests. Sadly, you can’t go inside, but you can walk underneath the 100-foot-wide, 180-foot-long Shuttle (which wasn’t allowed at its previous home at Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport) and ascend to a viewing platform near the nose to get a better perspective.

Star Trek cast photo at Enterprise’s rolling-out ceremony

An accompanying exhibit will tell the story of spaceflight, Enterprise’s role and the future commercialization of extraterrestrial travel. Before its debut in 1976, the Space Shuttle was going to be called Constitution, in honor of the USA’s bicentennial year. Star Trek fans, however, conducted a successful letter-writing campaign to President Ford to name the vessel after the sci-fi classic’s starship. This image features the show’s cast and creator Gene Roddenberry at the Enterprise’s rolling-out ceremony in ’76. The relationship has endured: Leonard Nimoy was present when the Shuttle arrived at JFK Airport this spring, and talks are in progress to bring more actors from the original series to events at the Intrepid.

Thermal-protection tiles

For a prototype that never broke through Earth’s atmosphere, there’s a surprising amount of wear and tear on the exterior of Enterprise. The Shuttle became an integral part of the investigations that followed the Columbia disaster in 2003, when foam debris compromised the integrity of the thermal-protection system and the ship disintegrated on reentry, killing the crew. Real heat-resistant tiles were added to the  Enterprise’s left main landing-gear door; these bear the scuffs and marks of testing.


Also check out

Enterprise isn’t the museum’s only space-related holding. Our other favorite is the Soyuz TMA-6 reentry capsule that returned space tourist Greg Olsen, a cosmonaut and an astronaut to Earth from the International Space Station in 2005. Housed in the Exploreum section of the hangar, the on-loan artifact provides a fascinating comparison between rocket- and Shuttle-based programs. Unlike the reusable Space Shuttle’s heat-resistant tiles and blankets, this one-and-done capsule’s ablative layers burn off as it passes through the atmosphere, revealing the next coating of fiberglass and epoxy­—hence the charred capsule with blackened, peeling layers on display.


Go here afterward

The Pony Bar

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Once you’re back on land, make a beeline for the Pony Bar, a craft-beer oasis in Hell’s Kitchen. Two screens behind the bar helpfully list brews by ABV and size, and any 14-ounce pour is just $5 ($4 during happy hour, from 4:20 to 5:20pm). Snack on baked pretzels with beer mustard ($6) or tuck into a sandwich, such as the short rib with kimchi and hoisin on a toasted brioche roll ($9). • 212-586-2707, theponybar.com

  1. 637 Tenth Ave, (at 45th St)
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