AP Aerospace Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - The flying machine that ushered in NASA's space shuttle program has suffered storm damage in New York City.
Shuttle prototype Enterprise weathered Superstorm Sandy this week at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, but it sustained minor damage to its vertical stabilizer, or tail. A small piece of foam came off, said a museum spokesman.
The damage was confirmed Friday by both the museum and NASA as shuttle Atlantis concluded its journey to retirement at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
Enterprise will be repaired at the earliest opportunity, the Intrepid museum said in a statement. The museum remains closed because of storm damage.
"Enterprise remains safely in place and partially covered by the fabric of the damaged pavilion, which was left in place as a protective measure," said museum director Susan Marenoff-Zausner.
Enterprise was used for atmospheric drop tests over Edwards Air Force Base in California in 1977, four years before the first shuttle launch. It was never designed for space travel.
This past spring, the Smithsonian Institution turned the Enterprise over to the Intrepid, at NASA's instruction. The Smithsonian needed to make room at its display hangar in Virginia for the retired space shuttle Discovery.
Enterprise was flown atop a modified jumbo jet to New York in April and moved to the Intrepid museum in June.
Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum: http://www.intrepidmuseum.org/
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