Looking for a good deal during the recession? Space geeks don’t have to look any further than NASA, where they can pick up a retired space shuttle for the bargain-basement price of $28.8 million.
That’s the cost NASA estimates for shipping and handling on a space shuttle. The Space Shuttle Discovery has already been spoken for by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, but Atlantis and Endeavour are still available.
Not just anybody can buy them, however. NASA says because of the role the shuttles have played in the nation’s space program, “special attention is being given to ensure the shuttle orbiters are appropriately retired and displayed in the broadest interest of the American public.” That means Bill Gates or Sergei Brin probably can’t put one in the backyard.
The $28.8 million price tag is more than 30 percent off the original sticker price of $42 million NASA was asking in December of 2008. The space agency says it dropped the price because much of the original cost included work that is needed to decommission the shuttles even if they were only to be stored in a hangar.
NASA says the new price reflects the cost of transporting the space vehicles to their new locations and fixing them up so they are in proper display condition. More than 20 inquiries were received after the initial listing, but NASA expects others will step up now that the shuttles have been discounted. Technically, Atlantis and Endeavour are not for sale. They will remain property of NASA, but will be on permanent display at the new locations. The deadline for organizations to apply to adopt a shuttle is February 19.
In addition to the orbiters, NASA is also offering up surplus main engines from the space shuttle. And, it’s offering numerous other items are space-shuttle related (.pdf) to museums and educational institutions, including such items as flight-crew clothing and instruments that have been to space, as well as wind-tunnel models, mockups and simulators that never left the ground.