On Tuesday, NASA signed over title to Enterprise, a full-size prototype for the shuttles that flew into space, to the museum, which is housed in a decommissioned aircraft carrier docked on the West Side of Manhattan.
At first, museum officials said they would keep the Enterprise on the city-owned pier that serves as the entryway to the museum. But then they stirred controversy by deciding instead to build a space museum across the West Side Highway from the pier and make the shuttle its centerpiece.
Under that plan, Enterprise was destined to sit in a hangar at Kennedy International Airport in Queens until the museum was built. The switch of plans months after NASA awarded the shuttle to the Intrepid in April angered elected officials in Texas, Ohio and Washington, where museums had tried and failed to obtain shuttles.
Now, in a move aimed at defusing criticism that the Enterprise would be warehoused far from Manhattan for two years or more, Intrepid officials have decided to place the shuttle on the carrier’s flight deck next summer.
They said the Enterprise would be “under a protective covering” but would be visible to museum visitors.