The New York and Los Angeles homes for two of NASA's space shuttles want to put your name in lights — actually on heat shield tiles and stars — in return for your help funding the construction of new buildings for their incoming orbiters.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City and the California Science Center (CSC) in Los Angeles have each launched fundraising campaigns to develop the exhibit halls for space shuttles Enterprise and Endeavour, respectively. Both museums will have temporary displays ready for their shuttles later this year, but they need help to make their plans for permanent displays a reality.
The Intrepid's "Project Enterprise" and "Team Endeavour" from the California Science Center offer to display donors' names alongside the spacecraft they support, on graphics of stars or shuttle thermal tiles. The more supporters give, the more gifts they will receive in return, including limited collectibles, event invites and priority viewing of the space shuttles themselves.
Both the Intrepid and CSC have begun to build temporary displays that will house Enterprise and Endeavour as they fundraise and then construct the permanent exhibits. [Shuttle Enterprise Soars Over NYC (Photos)]
NASA's two other retired shuttles, Discovery and Atlantis, already have funded permanent displays.
Discovery was delivered to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, where it was rolled into the hangar display space previously filled by Enterprise. Atlantis' new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is under construction, financed by admission and concession sales.
Enterprise, which never flew into space but was used for a series of approach and landing tests in the 1970s, touched down at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on April 27 and will be delivered by barge to the Intrepid on June 6.
Enterprise's temporary home, a climate-controlled "Space Pavilion" on the converted aircraft carrier's flight deck, will open to the public on July 19. It will cost an additional $4 to $6 above regular admission to tour the shuttle exhibit.
Ultimately, the Intrepid plans a more expansive display for the prototype shuttle.
"Be a part of building a permanent home for the space shuttle Enterprise," reads the "Project Enterprise: Support the Space Shuttle" promotional card that was given out at the orbiter's arrival. "This new home on the West Side of Manhattan will make possible an expanding curriculum of educational programs designed to inspire future scientists, engineers and researchers."
Supporters can take part in Enterprise's "next journey" by sponsoring a star.
"Your star will appear now in a high visibility area of the temporary Enterprise exhibition space and prominently in the future permanent home of Enterprise," the card reads.
Sponsorship levels begin at $250 per star. For those who donate more, between $500 and $1,000, additional gifts are offered, including an "Enterprise Star crystal cube" and a commemorative photo of Enterprise.
Beginning at the $5,000 level, the Intrepid is also offering invitations to "Enterprise events." These include viewing Enterprise being craned onto the museum's flight deck, or for $10,000, riding on a boat next to Enterprise as it sails up the Hudson River to the Intrepid.
And for its top tier supporters donating $25,000 (or more), donors will be invited to the opening of the Space Pavilion with visiting dignitaries.
To learn more or sponsor a star, see the Intrepid's Project Enterprise website.
NASA will ferry Endeavour out to Los Angeles on top of a modified Boeing 747 in September. The following month, the shuttle will arrive in the "mother of all parades" to the California Science Center, where it will be displayed in a temporary hangar pavilion, now under construction.
Like the Intrepid, the CSC has plans for a more ambitious, permanent Endeavour display.
"The public will be able to view the space shuttle in the Endeavour Display Pavilion, located just outside the main [CSC] building, while a new Air and Space Center is being built," the science center describes on its website. "When completed, Endeavour will be the centerpiece of this new building, a 200,000 square-foot expansion envisioned as part of the Science Center's 25-year master plan."
As part of its display plan for the Air and Space Center, the CSC is looking to mount the shuttle Endeavour vertically, as if it was back on the launch pad, paired with twin solid rocket boosters and an external fuel tank that the center is set to receive from NASA.
To fund construction of this new Air and Space Center, the California Science Center is inviting the public to join "Team Endeavour" and sponsor one or more of the 23,000 heat shield tiles that protected the orbiter from the searing heat upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. [Photos of Shuttle Endeavour at Space Station]
"These tiles [were] integral to the safety of the orbiter, just as you, our friends and supporters, are integral to the success of the California Science Center," the CSC states on its Team Endeavour website. "Join us in showing your support by sponsoring a tile today!"
For $1,000, donors will receive a limited edition Endeavour gift, a newsletter to keep informed of Endeavour's arrival and the random selection of a sponsored thermal tile from underbelly of Endeavour.
The shuttle's real heat shield tiles won't be altered. Instead a digital representation of Endeavour exhibited alongside the orbiter will display the sponsors' names.
As the donation level increases from $2,500 to $10,000, supporters also receive priority viewing opportunities and event invitations, and their chance to choose the location and personalize the message on their tile on the lower or upper surfaces of the virtual space shuttle.
At the highest level, $25,000, Team Endeavour members will also be permanently recognized on a donor wall.
To learn more or sponsor a tile, see the California Science Center's Team Endeavour website.
Visit shuttles.collectspace.com for continuing coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.
Copyright 2012 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.