New York, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement today as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum welcomes the Space Shuttle Enterprise to New York City to serve as the orbiter’s new permanent home. After a year of relentless lobbying along with Senator Charles E. Schumer, NASA chose New York City out of 20 other applications nationwide. In August of 2010, Gillibrand successfully stepped in and kept New York City’s bid alive when members of the Senate Commerce Committee attempted to insert language into federal legislation that would have eliminated the bid from contention.
“I am thrilled to see NASA land a space shuttle in New York City and I can’t wait for my two young boys to experience the Enterprise,” Senator Gillibrand said. “As the cultural and economic capital of our nation, New York City has the right stuff to create a world class exhibit attracting millions of visitors and school children. Having this American treasure in the heart of the Big Apple will inspire generations to come.”
The Intrepid Museum already draws almost 1 million visitors per year, 70% of whom come from outside of the New York City metropolitan area. After the Concorde was added to the Intrepid Museum in 2003, there was a 20% spike in attendance. Considering the outpouring of interest in bringing the space shuttle to New York, visitation is expected to balloon at an even larger rate.
Bringing the space shuttle to the Intrepid Museum will also provide an unprecedented new educational opportunity for New York City students and tourists alike. It will be the source of an entirely new educational program that can easily and seamlessly be built upon the Intrepid’s already strong focus on the space portion of Intrepid’s history, and would expand the understanding of the depth and importance that space exploration has had for our entire nation.
The Intrepid’s connection with the U.S. Space Program runs deep. The ship was tasked in the 1960s with retrieving astronauts from some of the first manned space flights when their capsules splashed down in the Pacific. In May 1962, the Intrepid served as a primary recovery vessel for the Mercury 7 space mission commanded by astronaut Scott Carpenter. In March of 1965, Intrepid helicopters pick up Gemini 3 astronauts John Young and Virgil “Gus” Grissom and recovered their two-person capsule nicknamed “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”