There’s a sight and a sound to behold as you step through the door of the Space Shuttle Pavilion, situated upon the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. The sight is the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the prototype craft that signaled the era of the reusable spacecraft had begun when it rolled out of Rockwell’s Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, in 1976. Now retired, the Enterprise is a massive and masterful, not to mention still-majestic piece of living history protected by the Pavilion’s walls. The sound – and it’s really the first thing you hear – is the voice of Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy, who narrates an informative short film that traces the dramatic history of Enterprise and NASA’s space shuttle program.
This morning, StarTrek.com attended a bustling ribbon-cutting ceremony and the public opening of the Space Shuttle Pavilion. In attendance were numerous dignitaries, among them NASA astronauts Mario Runco Jr., Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Kevin R. Gregel, Ellen S. Baker, Charles J. Camarda, Michael J. Massimino, Karol J. Bobko and Lee M.E. Morin; NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr.; local politicians, event sponsors; and a contingent of surviving crewmen who served aboard the Intrepid during its years as an aircraft carrier.
Star Trek fans who visit the Enterprise will also glimpse, on a wall, an oversized photo of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and most of the show's cast at the 1976 roll-out. Copy beneath the photo notes that a write-in campaign by Trek fans, directed at President Gerald R. Ford, resulted in the shuttle being dubbed Enterprise.Pretty much all of the speakers noted the rich history of Enterprise and the importance of the shuttle now residing in New York City and being available for millions of tourists a year to see and experience. As one speaker aptly noted, its presence in the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum provides an opportunity to show the public the “humanity behind the hardware.”
Also today, StarTrek.com spoke briefly with Leonard Nimoy, who been on hand in April when Enterprise arrived in New York, before it made its final trek to the Intrepid. “It was an emotional and proud experience for me to be associated with this project,” Nimoy said. “The shuttle was a leap forward in moving people and equipment into space. I remember the day it was rolled out of its hangar in California and the Air Force band played the theme from Star Trek. It was thrilling. I’m so happy that it's found a home.”