NASA has three space shuttles scheduled for retirement in the next two years, and for the first time ever, museums will have to shell out big bucks if they want to display the crafts.
NASA estimates that it will cost $42 million to get each shuttle ready for display — including $6 million to transport it — and they are asking the museums to foot the bill. NASA has never charged institutions like the Smithsonian in the past, but with the Ares I rocket and Orion capsule believed to be well over budget, NASA insiders say the program needs to pinch pennies wherever possible.
$42 million seems steep, but NASA isn’t trying to squeeze a profit out of these charges. This is simply their estimated cost for safing, display preparation, and transportation of a shuttle. “Safing” means decontamination of the fuel systems and removal of other safety and environmental hazards.
No museums have commented yet as to whether or not they would be willing to pay NASA’s asking price, which, by the way, is “subject to change.”