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Shuttle Enterprise could float down Hudson

  |   April 15, 2011 at 12:11 PM
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NEW YORK, April 15 (UPI) -- The space shuttle Enterprise, used for early glide tests, could float down the Hudson River toward its final New York destination, a U.S. senator suggested.

The Enterprise, which NASA said Tuesday would be put on permanent display at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum at New York's Pier 86 next year, could fly into Stewart International Airport 60 miles north of the city and then float down the Hudson on a barge, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed in a letter to the space agency.

Stewart, in New York's Hudson Valley, has a nearly 12,000-foot-long main runway and is one of 42 airports and air force bases worldwide designated for emergency shuttle landings. No shuttle has landed there.

Getting the Enterprise 5 miles to the river from Stewart would be tricky, but Schumer spokesman Matt House told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., Schumer first wanted to see if the National Aeronautics and Space Administration liked the idea before working out logistics.

NASA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs Stewart, had no immediate comment.

NASA intends to fly the Enterprise piggyback on a modified Boeing 747 to the New York area before floating it on a barge to the museum, which also showcases the World War II aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the submarine USS Growler, a Concorde SST and a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane.

The Enterprise -- the first shuttle orbiter -- was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield and was therefore not capable of spaceflight.

On Jan. 15, 2009, a US Airways jetliner with 155 people aboard splash-landed in the icy Hudson near the Sea-Air-Space Museum shortly after takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

All on board the plane -- which had flown into a flock of geese and lost power in both engines -- were safely evacuated and brought to shore in a dramatic rescue episode. The plane remained virtually intact as it floated down the Hudson, slowly sinking.

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