NASA is set to offer three old space shuttles for sale to museums, and has recently dropped the price of each from $40m to $30m.
The Smithsonian Museum would normally be the favourite option, but they have decided they won't have enough room to house it.
America's National Air and Space Museum has already got a claim on space shuttle Discovery, but Endeavour and Atlantis are still open for bids until February 19, and NASA have received 19 enquiries from museums so far.
(No bids have been offered from private collectors, despite the often underestimated value of shuttle memorabilia at auction, such as a space shuttle tile which sold for $10,000 late last year.)
Some are more committal than others. The Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon has spent eight figure sums constructing a special hall for a space shuttle. Their curator Steward Bailey commented:
"We are pretty optimistic about the chances of getting an orbiter here. We wouldn't have gotten into it if we didn't believe we could get one."
The shuttles were described as 'marvels of engineering' by NASA spokesman Allard Beutel, and have achieved speeds in excess of 17,000mph but, perhaps in an attempt to deter joyriders, they will not include engines. Beutel added:
"It's important to point out that these shuttles are not for sale to someone wishing to fly off into space."
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