Repaired Enterprise space shuttle reopens at Intrepid museum
Another sign of the city's resilience after superstorm Sandy was on display at the USS Intrepid Wednesday as tourists and children jammed the flight deck to get a glimpse of the reopened Enterprise space shuttle.
The 75-ton Enterprise sustained tail damage and its white balloon dome cover collapsed after Sandy slammed into Manhattan last fall.
The shuttle, which arrived at its permanent home on the Intrepid with much fanfare and a flyby of the Statue of Liberty in April 2012, was closed for repairs after the storm.
Wednesday it was open for business again, now housed in a new $3 million steel-framed pavilion that officials said can withstand winds of up to 90 mph.
The pavilion will include 17 exhibits of "original artifacts that highlight the shuttle's missions," said Susan Marenoff-Zausner, president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
The permanent home of the massive spacecraft remains uncertain, museum officials said.
Among the possibilities are the construction of a structure on the Intrepid flight deck or a new facility nearby.
Aboard the flight deck Wednesday, children on field trips stared in awe at the Enterprise and tourists gawked, took pictures and soaked in a piece of history housed on the Hudson.
Brandon Wong, 10, of Elmhurst, Queens, had an eyeball-level view of the gray nose of the shuttle, a test vehicle named after the fictional spacecraft that ferried Capt. James T. Kirk and his crew through the universe on TV's "Star Trek."
"It's Spock," Brandon said after clicking on an image from his computer tablet of Capt. Kirk's otherworldly sidekick from the 1960s series.
Brandon's sister, Samantha, 16, was nearby to translate her brother's wide-eyed amazement at the shuttle and its connection to the pointy-eared Spock. "He means it's great," she said with a laugh.
Samantha Wong said she toured the shuttle three months before Sandy hit. It was just as impressive now as it was then, she said.
"It's beautiful," she said. "It represents ambition and that's what makes it human."
For Artie Flynn, 70, a retired Navy sailor from Bay Shore and museum volunteer, the reopening is "a personal achievement. It's a crown jewel that adds luster to our history."