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Space shuttle exhibit opens at Intrepid Museum (pictures)

The Space Shuttle Enterprise exhibit has officially opened at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum in New York, and CNET goes behind the scenes.

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Ty Pendlebury
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1 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Space shuttle exhibit opens

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is housed on the retired aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, moored on the banks of the Hudson River in New York. It's the new home of the Space Shuttle Enterprise, and CNET attended a preview of an exhibit devoted to the spacecraft.
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2 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung SpaceFest

The opening of the new space shuttle exhibit is hailed as the Samsung SpaceFest and coincides with the release of Samsung's new ES9000 television.
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3 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Space bubble

The space shuttle exhibit sits on the deck of the Intrepid and is visible from the road.
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Inside the bubble

CNET was lucky enough to get a preview before the crowds, but you can imagine this entrance hall will be filled with people now that the show is open to the public.
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Space Shuttle Enterprise

The Space Shuttle Enterprise fills the entire pavilion and is impressively large. It was originally known as the Constitution, but President Gerald Ford agreed to rename the craft the Enterprise after a letter campaign from "Star Trek" fans.
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Viewing deck

Unfortunately, you can't actually enter the shuttle, but there is a viewing platform set up at the nose of the craft where you can almost see inside. Almost.
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7 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Test vehicle

The Space Shuttle Enterprise never saw space, and was used in initial test flights in the late '70s. NASA's original intention was to convert the shuttle to space-worthiness, but this proved too costly and it ended up being cannibalized for parts for the other shuttles. Note the small hatch at the top left; that's the exit.
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The cockpit

The cockpit is about two stories from the ground. Here it's seen from the viewing platform.
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The tail

The Enterpise's tail lacks the rocket booster engines needed for space travel.
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Testing tiles

After the Columbia disaster in 2003, the Enterprise was used to determine the reason behind the tragedy. Here's a section of the craft that was laid with the tiles used on the Columbia; the tiles covering the underside of the rest of the Enterprise are "simulated" and weren't built to withstand re-entry.
The new tiled section of the craft was bombarded with foam blocks (like what fell from the Challenger at launch) to test the tiles' ability to withstand impacts. At the top left, you can see the damage caused.
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Awe inspiring

CNET's David Katzmaier is impressed by the shuttle's sheer size.
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Landing gear

Though it's on a "spacecraft," the landing gear looks similar to what you might find on any commercial airliner.
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The Enterprise

The Enterprise prototype was the first of six shuttles, which also included the Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour, and Atlantis. The final mission of the Atlantis ended July 21 2011, and officially marked the finish of the 30-year-old space shuttle program.
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Detail of the landing gear

Big wheels.
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Educational materials

The hall will undergo several improvements over the next few months, including further educational exhibits for children.
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Enterprise's final resting place

The USS Intrepid is the final resting place of the Enterprise, but the large, inflatable hall that houses the new exhibit isn't a permanent structure. The museum intends to build a dedicated housing for the shuttle in the next couple of years.

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