The first space shuttle is being spruced up for full public display.
The Enterprise is being cleaned and refurbished to become a centerpiece of the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. The overhaul includes repainting the exterior, replacing several windows and fixing holes made by woodpeckers.
"It needs some work to be brought back to its original condition," said Peter Golkin, a spokesman for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.
The Enterprise, which never went into space, was completed in 1976. During testing, it rode piggyback on a 747 and was let go in midair to gauge its approach and landing capacity. In descent, the shuttle functioned essentially as a giant glider, coasting to land, Golkin said.
After the Enterprise fulfilled its testing role, it remained outdoors for several years at NASA facilities in California and Florida. It was taken to the Paris Air Show in 1983. The Smithsonian Institution acquired the shuttle from NASA in 1985 but kept it in storage at Dulles Airport until it was moved to the new museum in November.
The Enterprise has been visible to the public since the museum opened in December, but it is roped off in its own wing, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. When the overhaul is complete in October, visitors will be able to walk around the shuttle and more than 100 large space artifacts such as rockets, missiles and spacesuits.
-- LILA ARZUA