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Space shuttle Enterprise takes off atop New York-bound jet

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 27, 2012 12:08 PM

By Thomas Zambito

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The space shuttle Enterprise took off on Friday from Washington piggybacked atop a Boeing 747 bound for New York, where it was set to make a dramatic flight along the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty.

The United States retired its space shuttles last year after finishing construction of the $100 billion International Space Station, a 15-nation project, to begin work on a new generation of spaceships that can carry astronauts to destinations beyond the station's 240-mile-high (384-km-high) orbit.

NASA has been flying the shuttles to cities around the nation for display.

Enterprise was en route to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport after taking off from Washington Dulles International Airport at about 9:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT). The flight was rescheduled from Wednesday due to weather.

The shuttle was to fly at low altitude along the Hudson River, giving residents of New York and New Jersey a chance to observe the prototype orbiter that was used for atmospheric test flights in the 1970s but never on a space mission.

It is scheduled later to be moved by barge up the Hudson for display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan. It will be lifted by crane onto the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that has been a museum since 1982.

On April 19, space shuttle Discovery was flown over Washington on its way to being displayed at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum annex in Virginia.

The shuttle Endeavour will head to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in the fall, while Atlantis will go on exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Paul Simao)