““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Engines not included
With a top speed of more than 17,000 miles per hour, NASA's space shuttles make even the fastest business jets seem slow by comparison-and soon you'll be able to buy one. Better hang onto your airplane, though: When NASA sells its three remaining shuttles-Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour-following their planned 2010 retirement, the craft will be for display purposes only.
While one of the famous orbiters is destined for the Smithsonian, the space agency anticipates that the price for the other two will be at least $42 million apiece, taking into consideration cleaning, decontaminating and preparing the craft for display. Since NASA will not disassemble the shuttles for transport, that estimate also includes a $6 million fee to ferry the craft to the nearest major airport on the back of a modified Boeing 747. The price does not include the shuttles' three main engines, which NASA expects will go for up to $800,000 each, plus shipping. And don't expect to park your shuttle outdoors, if you get one. The space agency will consider only buyers- presumably museums and other institutions- with indoor, climate-controlled display areas.