Thursday, January 21, 2010

For sale: two space shuttles, slightly used

US space agency NASA is organizing its own January sale, cutting the price tag of two space shuttles from $42 to $28.8 million (€29.21 to €20.04 million).Space Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour will be available for release to "education institutions, science museums and other appropriate organizations" from July 2011. They are being retired this year as the US Space Shuttle program is halted in support of a new space exploration program named Constellation.

NASA formerly announced plans to sell the Space Shuttle Orbiters in December 2008, approximately the cost of making safe a shuttle, preparing it for display and transporting to a US airport at $42 million (€29.21 million). Since then, the agency has simplified the tasks required, shaving 6 months and some 30 percent from the asking price.

Overall the Space Shuttle fleet has completed 129 flights, including 31 by Atlantis and 23 by Endeavour. Discovery, the other left over shuttle of the five-strong fleet, will go on display at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian. Challenger and Columbia were damaged in fatal launch/reentry accidents in 1986 and 2003 respectively.

NASA is also offering the main engines from retired space ships to a first-class home for no charge, according to reports in the US media. The engines were formerly offered for $400,000 to $800,000 (€278,415 to €556,831), but lack of interest has reportedly compelled NASA to scrap the charge. Any buyer with the funds to organize transportation and handling of the three-ton engines can now take them off NASA's hands for free.

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