Adler Planetarium in Chicago misses out on NASA space shuttle

After a 15-month courtship, Chicago’s Adler Planetarium got some bad news Tuesday: It will not be receiving one of NASA’s retiring shuttles.

NASA officials announced that the agency’s three space shuttles – Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavor – will find new homes at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., the California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City will receive a fourth shuttle, Enterprise, that was used for test flights but was never launched into space.

The Adler submitted a proposal to NASA earlier this year that would have built a dazzling glass-encased exhibit around a potential space shuttle.

“We’re just really excited that these shuttles are going somewhere where people will be able to see them up close,” says MichelleNichols, a master educator at Adler. “We would, of course, have loved to have hosted one here, but we’re not hanging our heads.”

“This was a great opportunity for Chicago – especially school children – and we gladly stepped up and made the best case possible to bring a Shuttle Orbiter to our global city,” reads a statement on the planetarium’s website from its president, Paul Knappenberger, Jr.

The Adler will, however, be receiving the flight simulator NASA has used to train shuttle astronauts. Nichols says Adler expects to receive the simulator, which includes a full-sized version of the flight deck, sometime in the next year and is still finalizing plans for its exhibition.

“NASA is still using it to train for the last shuttle mission in June,” she says. “So it will be right off the line when it gets here.”

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