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Preview of Space Shuttle Enterprise exhibit in New York City

 

Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images

Members of the media photograph the Space Shuttle Enterprise on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum's Space Shuttle Pavilion during a press preview July 18, 2012 in New York.

Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images

The nose and front landing gear of the Space Shuttle Enterprise on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum's Space Shuttle Pavilion during a press preview.

AP reports that Enterprise was NASA's first shuttle, built in 1976:

Of the six shuttles that NASA built, only four remain: Enterprise plus Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. The other two experienced disasters during their missions, killing their crews: Challenger exploded in 1986 and Columbia disintegrated in 2003.

President Richard Nixon first announced NASA's intention to build the shuttle fleet in 1972 amid heightened tensions during the Cold War. With U.S. officials fearing the Soviet Union would dominate the novel realm of space travel, the shuttle was designed to be a reusable spacecraft that could also land safely — allowing NASA to conduct launches more frequently and with greater efficiency.

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Mario Tama / Getty Images

The side of the Space Shuttle Enterprise at a press preview.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

The Space Shuttle Enterprise is seen at a press preview of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum's new Space Shuttle Pavilion on Wednesday in New York City. The Enterprise was NASA's first space shuttle and a prototype which performed tests in 1977 within the Earth's atmosphere. NASA awarded the Enterprise to the museum after the 2011 retirement of the shuttle program. The pavilion will open to the public July 19.