Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Where Have All the Shuttles Gone?

Sam usually provides your Thursday question, but today he’s masterminding a covert operation to dismantle the recently retired space shuttles and move them to the lobby of his apartment building in Houston, TX.

Houston’s not the only city hoping to get the three shuttles. Seattle, New York, and DC are all gunning for them as well. But I want to know what you think:

Where should the shuttles end up and what should be done with them? If you won one of the shuttles on the Price is Right (playing that game with the yodeling mountaineer), what would you do with it? What if you also won the Showcase Showdown, which included a million dollars and a popcorn maker?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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  1. April 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm —

    Creation museum!

  2. April 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm —

    I don’t have enough room in my front or back yard for a shuttle, so if I won one I’d prolly donate it to the Palm Springs International Airport or to the City of Palm Springs where I am so pleased to reside.

    The million dollars could be used to expand our operations at Skeptic Hosting, and since popcorn is permitted on my medically restricted and optionally vegan diet I’d def keep the popcorn machine.

  3. April 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm —

    Vernon, Texas. Mounted in Roy Orbison Park, of course.

  4. April 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm —

    Well, that depends. Are we talking about a hot air popper? The answer to this question will make all the difference.

  5. April 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm —

    One should be turned into the world’s largest and most expensive chia pet.

  6. April 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm —
  7. April 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm —

    Well, what a fortuitous coincidence! I just bought a gantry and a couple of booster rockets…

  8. April 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm —

    @Rebecca Watson: Ah, well that settles it then. The shuttles should be placed at either a carnival or movie theater. Also, Tom Hanks should be involved to some degree.

  9. April 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm —

    One should definitely go to Houston. It’s the center of space stuff in the US.

    The Udvar-Hazy Air-and-Space Museum in DC already has the Enterprise (atmospheric test Shuttle).

    Huntsville, the place where all the really big rockets came from, should get one.

    The Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio? That’s a great place, and it has a huge facility.

    I think I read somewhere that the Discovery, the oldest and most longevitus of the remaining shuttles that have gone into space, is going to end up at the Air and space in DC, and the Enterprise, which is now there, will go somewhere else.

  10. April 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm —

    I’d sell it to a private company looking to get into space exploration. Seems the government has given up on space, so maybe the private sector will show some initiative

  11. April 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm —

    @DiscordianStooge: The shuttles are worthless in terms of any private company’s needs. The technology is almost antiquated with computers that some calculators exceed in terms of computing power. Companies like SpaceX are developing their own technologies that are going to do the job in the future.

    As for where they should go, any museum which has the space and the will to display them and provide the public with accurate information about them.

  12. April 7, 2011 at 4:48 pm —

    I really hope it does come to NYC for the Intrepid A & S Museum; but, if I got it, I’d display it for people to see and find out about space exploration.

    That, and I’d sit in it and make laser blasts and rocket sounds when no one’s looking… ;)

  13. April 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm —

    The upcoming Falcon Heavy lifter from SpaceX will have a lift capacity to LEO of more than twice what the shuttles could bring. It’ll be rated for manned and unmanned missions both, and have one of the lowest launch costs per mass available.

    The Space Shuttles retiring is the end of an era – but eras end. Times move on.

  14. April 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm —

    My back yard is about 30 ft square with a large climbing structure in the middle, but just behind the fence is a park with soccer field, 2 basketball courts, 3 little league baseball fields, a bunch of tennis courts, and a play area. A shuttle would fit there nicely.

  15. April 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm —

    Uh, hello? Obviously I would put it in my backyard and shoot guns at it.

  16. April 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm —

    Easy, lay it down horizontally. Fill the bottom of the main tank with ballast, leave the SRB’s empty and hope it floats. Then I would have the world’s most awesome houseboat which I could travel around the world in, while solving crimes

  17. April 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm —

    My coworkers and I heard that you can get an SSME (space shuttle main engine) for free, as long as you pay for transportation and installation. We were trying to figure out if we could find a nice rich alum to donate that cost so we could hang one in the stairwell of our university’s engineering building. (It would fit quite well!) Alas, upon further investigation, it seems that the SSME is free only with the purchase of a shuttle. And I don’t think we have any alums rich enough to afford that.

  18. April 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm —

    @Erlend Aakre: You win.

  19. April 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm —

    Would it be so wrong to just live in it? I bet you could get some serious air time on HGTV for that shiz.

  20. April 7, 2011 at 11:02 pm —

    I ditto on Dayton and Houston.

    And I have to give my old favorite a mention: The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

    The million? Keep some, donate most to Skeptic/Atheist concerns.

    I’ll donate the popcorn machine-I hate popcorn!

  21. April 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm —

    NASA should have kept one and left it docked at the ISS. It could serve as and emergency lifeboat, and could be used to move around in low earth orbit for satellite service missions.

    — Charles

  22. April 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm —


    On the other hand, they have actually successfully been to space and back. ;)

  23. April 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm —

    Obviously it goes in the backyard as a chick magnet.

    My wife couldn’t possibly object could she?

  24. April 8, 2011 at 12:14 am —

    24hr MST3K shuttle theater with free pop corn

  25. April 8, 2011 at 12:33 am —

    I’m so delighted that so many other’s shared my first thought: I want to live in it!

  26. April 8, 2011 at 7:11 am —

    I’ll set aside however much I think I need to live in.

    Then I’ll convert the rest into low-rent yet awesome student housing.

  27. April 8, 2011 at 8:09 am —

    I would retrofit the thing to make it spaceworthy, (if it isn’t already) then use it to harvest all the scrap metal that’s in LEO, take it back and sell it for scrap.

    I just saw a picture yesterday of all the junk spacecraft that are up there, and how one of those pieces of junk almost hit the ISS. and what I saw was just the European Space Agency. The graphic didn’t even account for all the American junk that’s up there.

    I’d be cleaning up Low Earth Orbit, and potentially saving lives and valuable equipment. Plus a fella could make a bloody fortune on the recycled metal market!

  28. April 8, 2011 at 9:30 am —

    The Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio has put in a strong bid.

    They’ve already got an Apollo capsule (8 I believe), as well as a Gemini and Mercury capsule. Plus the facility is huge and best of all, free to visit.

    I for one support its going there, and I also encourage anyone who is even slightly interested in aviation history to go and visit. It’s a fantastic place.

  29. April 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm —

    @charlesunixpro: Wouldn’t work, I’m afraid. It would require too much maintenance, and would need to be refueled, which I doubt can be done in orbit.

    They keep a Russian capsule as a lifeboat.

  30. April 8, 2011 at 3:40 pm —

    I would buy a property with enough space so that I could out it where I could look at it every day. And play astronaut in it.

    Then I’d send a video of it to Jeremy Clarkson who has a mere MiG in his yard.

    It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 30 years since I sat up for hours into the night to watch STS1 land, I think with my breath held until after it stopped, thinking it was the most incredible and wondrous thing I had ever watched. I am such a nerd. An old nerd.

  31. April 9, 2011 at 12:55 am —

    I totally read this: “Sam usually provides your Thursday question, but today he’s masterminding…” as “…but today he’s *masturbating*…”

    As for the Showcase, I would totally turn the Shuttle into a theme park and sell popcorn. I’d use the money to fund Planned Parenthood and get the heck out of the US.

  32. April 10, 2011 at 6:21 am —

    I’d invite the students who impressed me the most every month for popcorn and science shows inside my space shuttle.

    Also I’d ask pretty women if they wanted to come home and pet my space shuttle.

    Also I’d be the owner of a fucking space shuttle!

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