The operators of New York's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum already have a Mercury space capsule, a submarine and a Concorde passenger jet. Now they want a space shuttle.
“This is very important to us, and it would just be an extraordinary, priceless treasure for New York City to receive," Bill White, president of the foundation that operates the Intrepid museum, told The New York Times. "You’re going to see a very public campaign for this in the next few months.”'
Museum officials said they're going to campaign for one of the three remaining shuttles that NASA plans to hand off when the shuttle program ends next year.
The Intrepid on Manhattan's West Side has plenty of competition from museums around the country. The museum was one of 20 institutions that responded by a March 17 deadline to ask NASA about its plans for the aging space shuttles Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavor.
But Intrepid official Bill White said the museum has never “shied away from competition or a challenge.”
NASA estimates the cost of preparing and delivering the shuttles at $42 million each.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has contacted NASA about its interest in Discovery, the oldest of the space shuttles. The costs of obtaining the shuttles may be prohibitive to some of the museums vying for a piece of space history.
“Our official position is we don’t have the money to pay for the costs at all,” Michael J. Neufeld, chairman of the Smithsonian’s space history division told The Times.
Intrepid officials are confident they can raise the required funds through public and private sources. The foundation that runs the Intrepid raised $115 million to recently to renovate its pier, White told The Times.
A space shuttle exhibit would be a boon for New York City tourism.
"Any time you can add something new and as exciting as having the shuttle here, that will be an additional draw,” said George A. Fertitta, the chief executive of the city’s tourism promotion agency, NYC & Company.