Thursday, July 19, 2012

Space Shuttle Enterprise Lands at NYC Museum

NASA's Space Shuttle Enterprise, a prototype which never actually flew in space, arrived in New York in early June aboard a barge along the Hudson River. Today it opens for display to the public at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum at Pier 86.

The space shuttle was completed in 1976, being NASA's first. The Enterprise never actually flew a mission into outer space, but it performed critical tests around the Earth's atmosphere and is widely credited with paving the way for five future shuttles. It is 137 feet long and 57 feet wide, with a wingspan of 78 feet.

Previously it was at the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport.  It will be parked 10 feet off the ground in a protected area of aircraft carrier Intrepid's flight deck. Visitors can walk underneath it or climb to a viewing platform near its nose. Its nose is propped up so that it is level with the deck, and visitors can get an up-close view under and around the original NASA prototype shuttle, similar to how it looked coming in for a touchdown after one of its approach and landing test flights in the late 1970s.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Canadians to Get E-Passports Starting in 2013

Passport Canada has confirmed that beginning in spring of 2013, all new Canadian passports will be issued as electronic passports. The new Canadian ePassport will have an electronic chip embedded in the back cover of the book. The chip adds an extra layer of security to the passport and makes it more tamper-proof. The chip in the ePassport stores the same personal information that is normally printed on page 2 of the passport (except for the holder's signature), the photo and a country-specific digital security feature (or 'signature') that proves the passport was issued by the Government of Canada. No additional information about passport holders or their travels will be stored on the chip.

ePassport readers will be installed in Passport Canada's 34 offices for people who would like to see the information stored on their chip to make sure it is accurate.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Queen Elizabeth 2 to Become Floating Hotel

The owners of the Queen Elizabeth 2 have outlined plans to turn the old cruise liner into a dockside hotel.  The ship will remain in Dubai, at the downtown Port Rashid facility.  

The hotel is expected to have about 300 rooms, and developers are keeping many of the existing furnishings intact. The idea is to have future guests feel as though they've been transported back in time, as little appears changed since the vessel's final voyage in 2008. Officials say the conversion will take about 18 months, so the hotel should open around the end of 2013.   

The ship was built for Cunard and operated by Cunard as a cruise ship from 1969 to 2008.