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Shuttle For Sale, High Mileage, One Previous Owner

What better present is there for you favorite interplanetary nerd than the Space Shuttle Discovery? NASA announced that it's putting its whole orbiter fleet up for sale, just in time for the holidays. No joke, just delivery might take a little while.

NASA's fleet of three remaining Space Shuttles, Atlantis, Endeavor and Discovery, are due to retire in 2010, and NASA just opened the bidding to any institution which can display and take care of them afterwards. They're estimating each shuttle to go for at least $42 million after cleaning, transportation and refurbishing costs. If that chunk of change is a bit too steep, they'll be selling the engines by themselves for only around $400,000 apiece.

NASA has already guaranteed the Smithsonian one of the orbiters (even though they already have one), leaving the others up for grabs. The bidding will be left open until Saint Patrick's Day next year, but anyone interested should get their requests in soon. Supplies are limited and this is guaranteed to be a hot item.

If you've got some extra cash and a display space as big as a Boeing 707 laying around, give the nice folks at NASA a buzz. Mostly I think they're looking for a more dignified fate than that of the old unused Russian space shuttle, Buran. At the end of the Cold War, Russia unveiled its own reusable orbiter which looked suspiciously like the American Space Shuttle. After the Buran's one unmanned test flight in 1988, the Russians locked it away in storage until a roof collapse destroyed the vehicle in 2002.

The lesson being; if you do end up with Atlantis Discovery or Endeavor, make sure building inspectors give your display hall the OK first.

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