The Space Shuttle Enterprise is on the move. It's currently headed up the Hudson River, on it's way to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan. Helping the orbiter on the journey is Cranford-based company , located on Commerce Drive.
After a brief layover in the Port Elizabeth Marine Terminal, the shuttle, resting on a barge roughly the size of a football field, continued it's journey this morning. Being pulled by a powerful tugboat and surrounded by several other vessels, the shuttle passed the Statue of Liberty at about 10:40 a.m., and is scheduled to ceremoniously arrive at the Intrepid early this afternoon. Once it's prepped and polished, the aircraft will become part of an exhibit commemorating the end of the NASA shuttle program.
Enterprise first arrived in the tri-state area on April 27. Flown in on the back of a jumbo jet, the shuttle landed at JFK International Airport. The prototype shuttle - which never actually blasted off into space - is the first and spacecraft ever to cross from New York to New Jersey. The transport took Weeks Marine more than a year to plan, and presented numerous challenges including the changing tides in the Hudson River as well as navigating local bridges.
Weeks Marine, one of the largest marine and tunneling contractors in the United States and Canada, is no stranger to challenges. In 2009, the company sent crews to help pull U.S. Airways flight 1549 - now known as The Miracle on the Hudson - out of the river after it crash-landed. The plane, piloted by Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, was forced to make an emergency landing six minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport after being disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese.
Jason Marchioni, the company’s heavy-lift manager, helped coordinate and oversee the transport of Enterprise. He could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Originally founded by Francis Weeks in 1919, the Weeks Stevedoring Company started with two cranes in the Port of New York, handling bunker coal and dry ballast. Today, the company has grown to including satellite locations throughout the United States and Canada. They specialize in moving massive vessels such as yachts.
Enterprise is expected to arrive at the Intrepid to much fanfare. It was the first Space Shuttle orbiter. It was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform test flights in the atmosphere. Completed on Sept. 17, 1976, Enterprise was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield, and was therefore not capable of spaceflight.