Will Shuttle Land in Chicago?

Adler learns Tuesday if it'll get permanent dibs on a NASA orbiter

By BJ Lutz
|  Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011  |  Updated 1:27 PM CDT
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Planetarium President: Shuttle "Would Be Exciting for Chicago"

Paul Knappenberger, the president of the Adler Planetarium, explains why Chicago is the best resting place for one of NASA's shuttles and what the plans entail.
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UPDATE: Chicago was passed over in the shuttle shuffle, but the Adler did receive a consolation price

Chicago's Adler Planetarium, along with 20 other museums and institutions, will find out Tuesday if one of the remaining Space Shuttle orbiters will land in Chicago.

The announcement comes after more than two years of intense lobbying and as the entire fleet of orbiters is being retired after 30 years of service.

While officials won't comment, it's widely believed the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, in Washington D.C., will get Discovery, which would likely mean the current shuttle there, the Enterprise, would be moved.

Enterprise is a training vehicle that's never been in orbit. The other aircraft up for grabs are Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour.

The Adler Planetarium last month revealed its plans for the shuttle display: a huge glass pavilion and learning center with public access to an orbiter appearing to be suspended in air.

"NASA has a strong presence on the coasts, but not much of a presence here in the middle of the country.  Yet if you look at the shuttle story, its history, many of the men and women who played key roles in both developing, designing, building and flying the shuttle hail from the Midwest and from Chicago," said Adler President Paul H. Knappenberger last month in explaining why Chicago was an ideal choice.

Among those wanting the orbiters: the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. It's considered a front runner, in part, because of the influence of former senator and astronaut John Glenn.

"I wish we had a couple of hundred of them to distribute and make them cheap enough so everyone could have one," he recently told NBC News.

The Museum of Flight, in Seattle, Wash., has already started work on a new wing for a shuttle.  And in New York, the Intrepid Museum argues it can provide the biggest spotlight.

And then there's the visitor's complex at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where every space shuttle has started its journey.  It's considered a sentimental favorite. 

The Adler on Tuesday will feature an all day "Celebration of Spaceflight" at the museum with space-themed activities. Adler visitors can watch NASA’s announcement live in the Universe Theater at 12 p.m.

AdlerPlanetarium.org

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