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Posted at 02:06 PM ET, 04/12/2011

Smithsonian’s new blockbuster exhibit: Discovery space shuttle


Discovery is suspended by two cranes in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (TERRY RENNA - AP)

Updated, 2:05 p.m.

NASA officials have made it official: Discovery is landing at the Smithsonian and will go on display at the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport. The Post’s Jacqueline Trescott has the details.

Original post:

NASA officials are set to announce this afternoon whether the space shuttle Discovery will become the Smithsonian’s latest blockbuster exhibit.

With the shuttle program winding down, NASA chief Charles Bolden will reveal where the program’s four orbiters will go on permanent display. Twenty-one museums and centers around the country are competing for the spaceships.

Since the Smithsonian has first-right-of-refusal for NASA artifacts, the museum is all but assured of getting Discovery, which has traveled 148 million miles — more than any other shuttle, according to NASA.

The Discovery would likely replace the Enterprise, a test shuttle that has never flown in space, at the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Fairfax County near Dulles Airport. The Enterprise would be put on exhibit at one of the other museums in the competition. The

Bolden’s announcement at the Kennedy Space Center will be streamed live on NASA Television

The Discovery would be ready for exhibit by early next year, said Allard Beutel, a NASA spokesman. It is currently being cleaned of toxic propellants, so it is safe to exhibit.

Beutel said the shuttle would be delivered on the back of a modified 747.

The other two shuttles up for grabs are the Atlantis and the Endeavour.

By  |  02:06 PM ET, 04/12/2011

 
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