Aviation News

October 31, 2012

Space Shuttle Enterprise Damaged During Hurricane Sandy

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By: Phil Derner Jr.
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Photo shows Space Shuttle Enterprise's failed protective bubble and broken tail, the only yet-known damage the aircraft received.
Photo shows Space Shuttle Enterprise's failed protective bubble and broken tail, the only yet-known damage the aircraft received.
Damage throughout the New York area is on a catastrophic level, as many were simply not expecting Hurricane Sandy to deliver the punch that it did. However, one unfortunate casualty that was supposed to be prepared for such a storm was the Space Shuttle Enterprise at the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum.

Several images show that the protective bubble that covered Enterprise on the deck of the USS Intrepid, deflated and then exposed the shuttle, leaving it to lose a chunk of its tail.

This is the second time in the Intrepid’s 7-month ownership of Enterprise that it received damage. In May, during it’s delivery from JFK Airport to the museum’s Pier 86 location, its right wing clipped a bridge pillar, taking out a chunk of the wing tip.

The protective bubble was built to withstand a “100 year storm”, which was one of the requirements set forth by NASA in deciding which facilities would be granted one of the four retired Space Shuttles. However, it seems Intrepid’s 100 year storm plan didn’t consider the possibility of the loss of electricity that occurred during Sandy, which caused the bubble to deflate and allowed the priceless aerospace artifact to become susceptible to damage.

No one knows of possible further damage that we could not see from afar, which could be various scrapes or other missing pieces that Enterprise may have received while exposed during Hurricane Sandy, which brought sustained winds of over 80mph to New York City earlier in the week.

We are still awaiting word from Intrepid Museum on a more detailed damage assessment and repair timeline. Susan Marenoff-Zausner, President of the museum, issued a release that referred people to their website for further details, but their website was not operational at press time.

Space Shuttle Enterprise was the first airframe of the program built, and it was used as a prototype to test landings and aerodynamic analysis, setting the stage for later versions that would operate 135 missions to space over a 30-year career.

Stay tuned to NYCAviation for more information.

Closeup of Enterprise’s tail damage.

Webcam “before” view of enterprise’s protective bubble.