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John Minchillo  /  AP
Space shuttle Enterprise, riding on the back of the NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, lands at JFK International Airport, Friday, April 27, in New York. Enterprise is eventually going to make its new home in New York City at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
By Editor, CollectSpace
updated 4/27/2012 12:19:44 PM ET 2012-04-27T16:19:44

Space shuttle Enterprise, the prototype for NASA's storied orbiter fleet, is now a New Yorker.

The original test space shuttle, Enterprise flew into the Big Apple on Friday atop a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The air- and spacecraft duo touched down at New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport at 11:22 a.m. EDT (1522 GMT) following a photogenic flyover of some of the metropolitan area's most famous sights, including the Statue of Liberty and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, which Enterprise will soon call home.

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Enterprise, mounted to NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), took off from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. at 9:39 a.m. EDT (1339 GMT). The nearly two-hour flight had been delayed for several days due to weather concerns.

See Enterprise's flyover of New York from many different vantage points on msnbc.com's PhotoBlog, and check out NBC News' Storify recap of the event.

The ferry flight marked the first time Enterprise had been airborne in more than a quarter-century. The prototype orbiter — which never flew in space but was used for a series of approach and landing tests in the late 1970s — had been a part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's collection since being flown to Washington in November 1985. [Photos: A Space Shuttle Called 'Enterprise']

On April 19, Enterprise was replaced at the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., by Discovery, NASA's most-flown space shuttle. Friday's flight to New York began Enterprise's journey to the Intrepid, a converted World War II aircraft carrier, for its permanent display.

Planes, cranes and barges
Enterprise's final landing was witnessed by an audience of 1,500 invited guests, including New York state and local elected officials. A brief handover ceremony between NASA and Intrepid staff was to be held at the airport. The space agency already turned over Enterprise's title to the museum last December.

Image: Space Shuttle Enterprise flies over the Statue of Liberty in New York City
Bruce Bennett  /  Getty Images
Riding atop a 747 shuttle carrier aircraft, the space shuttle Enterprise flies past the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor on Friday.

Now on the ground in New York, Enterprise and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft will remain mounted together at JFK until NASA can move and set up the two large cranes that joined the two vehicles in Washington. Once separated, Enterprise will be parked in an airport hangar for several weeks.

On June 4, Enterprise will be hoisted onto a specially configured barge and towed down the Hudson River to a dock in Bayonne, N. J. Once there, the space shuttle will be transferred to another barge outfitted with a large crane.

The crane-equipped barge will then complete the trip with Enterprise up the Hudson on June 6, pulling up next to the Intrepid and offloading the orbiter onto the museum's flight deck. A climate-controlled structure made of steel and fabric will then be erected over the shuttle beginning on June 7.

The Intrepid plans to open its new "Space Shuttle Pavilion" to the public on July 19. Inside, guests will find Enterprise displayed as if it were landing from one its test flights, its nose raised into the air and tailcone attached at its rear.

The flight deck exhibit, however, is intended to be temporary. Over the next few years, the Intrepid has plans to build a Science and Technology Center, which will become Enterprise's permanent home.

banner for shuttle at Intrepid
Robert Z. Pearlman  /  collectSPACE.com
A banner promotes space shuttle Enterprise’s arrival and upcoming display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

Ship and shuttle's space history
Enterprise and the Intrepid both played important but supporting roles in NASA's human spaceflight efforts.

Originally called the "Constitution," Enterprise got its name after fans of the sci-fi TV series "Star Trek" staged a successful write-in campaign.

The first of NASA's orbiters to roll off the assembly line, Enterprise is best known for the nine-month Approach and Landing Test (ALT) program, which demonstrated that a spacecraft that launched like a rocket could fly in the atmosphere and land like an airplane, except without power-gliding flight.

In addition to ground tests and captive flights (during which Enterprise remained atop its carrier plane), two astronaut crews took turns flying the 150,000-pound (68,000-kilogram) spacecraft to free-flight landings.

After the ALT program ended, Enterprise was used as a test and fit-check vehicle for the space shuttle program's ground processing facilities and two launch pads — Kennedy Space Center's Complex 39 in Florida and the planned but never used SLC-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Enterprise also became the only space shuttle to fly overseas, visiting the Paris Air Show as well as Germany, Italy and England before returning to the U.S. — and flying over New York City — in 1983.

As for the Intrepid, prior to becoming a museum in 1982, it served as the primary recovery ship for two of NASA's early manned spaceflights.

The Intrepid returned to land Scott Carpenter and his Aurora 7 Mercury spacecraft after the United States' second manned orbital flight splashed down 50 years ago this May. The aircraft carrier also recovered the first two-man crew of the Gemini program after that spacecraft landed in March 1965.

Replicas of both spacecraft are on display as part of the Intrepid's space exhibits.

Visit shuttles.collectspace.com for continuing coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.

Follow collectSPACE on Facebook and Twitter @collectSPACE and editor Robert Pearlman @robertpearlman. Copyright 2012 collectSPACE.com. All rights reserved.

© 2013 Space.com. All rights reserved. More from Space.com.

Video: Enterprise lands in New York

  1. Closed captioning of: Enterprise lands in New York

    >>> finally here tonight with all of the towering buildings and noise and destructions that surround them every day, not much causes new yorkers to look up. but today, it was a sight too rare to pass up. the unmistakable profile against the sky of a 747 carrying a space shuttle on its back. our report tonight from nbc's anne thompson .

    >> the symbols of freedom and power that make up new york's iconic skyline today provided a ba backdrop for the space shuttle "enterprise."

    >> it was amazing. and it looked like you could reach out and touch it.

    >> tourists lined the hudson river . white and blue collars stopped working, and everyone looked up. and a few looked back. at the past ground zero and one world trade center .

    >> just like the memorial here. not the end of an era , just a new beginning.

    >> the enterprise was to be named the constitution. but star trek fans persuaded the ford administration to take their suggestion.

    >> these are the voyages of the star trip enterprise.

    >> in 1976 , leonard nimoy and others in the cast watched the rollout, but this enterprise would be a perpetual bridesmaid. always the test shuttle, never soaring into space. but no less important, says shuttle commander mark kelly .

    >> it's very striking, an incredible machine that only americans have been able to build and fly.

    >> it had boldly gone to new york city before in 1983 . today, it flew by its new home.

    >> the shuttle's amazing journey will resume in june when a barge will bring the "enterprise" up the hudson river . a crane will place it on the "intrepid" and in july, the public will gets its first view. until then, it will stay at the kennedy airport . a city where the "enterprise" will live long and prosper .

    >> it was pretty cool.

    >> anne thompson , nbc news, new york.

Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

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  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

    The International Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm moves toward Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus autonomous cargo craft as it approaches the station for a Jan. 12 delivery. The mountains below are the southwestern Alps. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Accidental art

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show? At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images we're used to seeing from the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's a genuine Hubble frame that was released on Jan. 27. Hubble's team suspects that the telescope's Fine Guidance System locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in a remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. (NASA / ESA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Supersonic test flight

    A camera looking back over Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background during a test flight of the rocket plane on Jan. 10. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. The test was aimed at setting the stage for honest-to-goodness flights into outer space later this year, and eventual commercial space tours.

    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

    This image provided by NASA shows a satellite view of smoke from the Colby Fire, taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft as it passed over Southern California on Jan. 16. The fire burned more than 1,863 acres and forced the evacuation of 3,700 people. (NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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