NASA has issued a request for information (RFI) soliciting ideas for what to do with the shuttle orbiters and main engines once the space program ends in 2010. NASA will use information gained from this RFI to develop strategies for eventual placement of two space shuttle orbiters and a minimum of six unassembled space shuttle main engine display “kits. NASA wants to collect a wide variety of perspectives about whether eligible recipient organizations are capable of appropriately displaying the shuttle orbiters and main engines, and bearing the full cost of preparing the hardware for display and transportation to its final destination. NASA estimates it will cost about $42 million to get each shuttle ready and to where it needs to go. The final tab could be much higher. There are also restrictions. Only indoor, climate-controlled displays will be considered, and the orbiters “will not be disassembled for transportation or storage.” One of the shuttles appears headed for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The other two would go into storage at Kennedy Space Center until their final homes are decided.
The RFI also seeks ideas about how the shuttle orbiters and shuttle main engines can best be used in the broad national interest to inspire the American public and students in particular. Organizations interested in responding to the RFI must provide their input to NASA by March 17, 2009.