NASA Considering Adler for Orbiter Museum

Shuttle fleet to be retired by the end of the year

If officials at the Adler Planetarium have it their way, the museum could one day house the a soon-to-be space relic: a space shuttle orbiter.

The Adler said it is one of 21 museums and institutions under consideration by NASA to receive either Atlantis or Endeavour, the Chicago Tribune reports.  The space agency has already promised the fleet's oldest shuttle, Discovery, to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Other museums include New York's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, the National  Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio; the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; the Seattle Museum of Flight and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama.

Bringing one of world's first reusable manned spacecraft to Chicago is pricey. NASA says it's considering institutions that would be able to raise the nearly $29 million needed to ship and reassemble the craft after it's decommissioned.

"We know that it would not be a small amount of money," Adler President Paul Knappenberger said, according to the Tribune. "but we feel strongly that this is just such a plum and such an asset for Chicago and the Midwest that we can put together a fundraising campaign that would find the resources to make it happen.

Atlantis is currently on a visit to the International Space Station.  Only two flights remain, by Discovery and Endeavour, as NASA plans to end the 30-year program by the end of this year.

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