Enterprise boldly goes where no space shuttle has gone before: New York
As NASA's Space Shuttle program comes to a close, the shuttle that started it all has landed in a new home.
The Enterprise, NASA's original prototype orbiter from the 1970s, has made its final voyage to become a permanent exhibit at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.
And though it was far from the dangers of space travel, there were still risks to consider – which is why the museum turned to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, a leading provider of insurance for aviation and marine industries.
NASA's first manned orbiter
Originally dubbed Constitution, the space shuttle was renamed after fans of the television series "Star Trek" started a write-in campaign to then-President Gerald Ford, insisting that the shuttle be named after the series' famed starship.
The successful flight and ground tests of Enterprise paved the way for NASA's Space Shuttle program. The shuttle was also used for extensive research to ensure safe flights for the remaining shuttles Endeavour, Atlantis, and Discovery.
When NASA ended the program in 2008, a race began among museums nationwide to acquire the shuttle orbiters. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City was awarded Enterprise to display on its World War II-era aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid.
The final voyage
The Enterprise began her final voyage on April 27, 2012, when it left Washington D.C.s Dulles International Airport atop a specially designed NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA).
Following a low-altitude flyover of New York City, over 1,500 onlookers welcomed Enterprise's arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), where the 150,000-pound shuttle was lifted from the aircraft by two massive cranes then towed into a protective hangar.
On June 3, Enterprise was placed on a barge for the trip up the Hudson River to the USS Intrepid, permanently docked on the west side of Manhattan. Flanked by three tug boats and a U.S. Coast Guard escort, the Enterprise was greeted with great fanfare and cheering crowds along the waterfront.
Winds, tides, and other risks
Having previously worked with the Project Cargo team of Allianz to deliver its Concorde supersonic aircraft, the Intrepid Museum again chose Allianz to assist in this transportation challenge.
"This was a special project for us," said Richard Lawson, Allianz Risk Consulting (ARC) Marine Senior Risk Consultant. "The cooperation with the different parties involved was outstanding."
ARC Marine risk engineers worked closely with the museum's project engineer, from the lift-off in Washington D.C. through its delivery to the flight deck of the Intrepid. Allianz also worked closely with barge operator (and long-term client) Weeks Marine on the loading of the Enterprise to the barge, including conducting a suitability survey and checking that the cranes doing the lifting were placed according to plan.
Risk engineers also had to account for wind, tidal conditions and shallow water along the coastline. Weather delays were a key element that threatened the transport from the beginning, but high traffic on the Hudson River and a tight schedule due to the timing of favorable tides were also challenges.
Today, the Enterprise is the centerpiece of the Intrepid Museum's new space exhibition. The Space Shuttle Pavilion, a climate-controlled structure built to protect the shuttle, opened to the public on July 19.