The Space Shuttle fleet will be retiring in the next year (pending, of course, on whether they can get some cracking problems licked). While the orbiters themselves will be sold off, at prices in the millions of dollars, to museums Universities and schools around the country will have the opportunity to own at least a little piece of the Space Shuttle legacy.
About 7,000 tiles from the shuttle heat shields will be sold off to institutions desiring to display them and use them for educating the public on NASA and the Space Shuttle program. The tiles are being given essentially free to eligible institutions except for a small shipping and handling fee ($23.40).
Orders are currently being taken (one per institution), though there is a priority list for receiving a tile as follows (from NASA):
- The National Air and Space Museum and NASA Visitor Centers (for onsite display) are reserved the first 30 days to select potential artifacts (Internal prescreening).
- NASA Programmatic Reuse has priority selection throughout the 90 day period.
- Potential artifacts not selected in the internal prescreening period are available for selection as a transfer to other Federal agencies; as a donation to museums and educational institutions through State Agencies for Surplus Property (SASPs) under authority of the Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program; and, for direct transfer to universities, colleges and schools under authority of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act.
So if you are an educator, you may want to get on the ball and see if you can order a piece of history for your school. They’ve been available since Wednesday, and I am sure that they will go fast.
United Space Alliance technicians work on the thermal protection system tiles on space shuttle Discovery. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett