Although there is as yet no official confirmation, it appears that the Space Shuttle Enterprise, recently moved to a permanent home in New York City, was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The Space Shuttle Enterprise inside its display pavilion at the Intrepid museum (Photo: NASA)

The Enterprise was installed at the USS Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum located at Pier 86 at 46th Street on the West Side of Manhattan. The Enterprise was located on the flight deck of the Intrepid inside an inflatable pavilion for display. The fury of Hurricane Sandy deflated the pavilion, nearly tearing it off the shuttle, and in the process seems to have caused structural damage to the Enterprise's vertical stabilizer (tail). No official comment has yet been made by the museum.

Space Shuttle Enterprise making its way through Jamaica Bay by barge (Photo: NASA)

This is the second encounter with damage for the Enterprise, in what appears to have been an ill-fated move from the National Air and Space Museum, where it had been displayed for the last eight years. During a barge trip through Jamaica Bay, a strong microburst came from nowhere and pushed the Enterprise's wingtip against a railway bridge. The damage was minor, and quickly repaired.

The Enterprise's encounter with Sandy carries the potential for more significant damage. The thermal tiles with which the shuttle is covered are easily crushed, and would easily be damaged by hail and/or blowing objects. The rain itself is probably not a concern, as shuttles sat on the launch pad unprotected in some difficult weather. Hopefully the damage will not be too severe.

Source: Space.com