ABC News' Gina Sunseri reports:
What to do with an old space shuttle? Its one of the most complicated vehicles ever built, though it relies on 1970's technology, and has only one bathroom.
NASA is looking for ideas for its space shuttle fleet, which includes Endeavour, Atlantis and Discovery. The orbiters will be retired in 2010 after 133 flights unless President-elect Barack Obama decides to keep them flying past the retirement date decreed by President Bush when he unveiled his plan to go back to the Moon and then eventually on to Mars.
The Orbiter is attached to a large external fuel tank, & solid rocket boosters before launch. The shuttle contains more than 2.5 million parts, 230 miles of wire, 1060 valves, 1,440 circuit breakers. It weighs approximately 4.5 million pounds at launch, and accelerates to an orbital velocity of 17,500 milers per hour, 25 times faster than the speed of sound, in just over eight minutes. That's zero to 100 mph in ten seconds. The shuttle includes the orbiter, the external tank, and the solid rocket boosters. On liftoff it weighs 4,525,808 pounds, but will be delivered without the tank and the boosters.
NASA is asking museums and other scientific organizations for proposals on what to do with the orbiters –- the Smithsonian already has the prototype Enterprise on exhibit. Any ideas?