FULL ASSEMBLY MUST VOTE STATE PANEL WANTS RETIRED ATLANTIS AT PLANT 42.
PALMDALE -- State legislation aimed at returning the space shuttle Atlantis to its Palmdale birthplace after it retires passed an Assembly committee vote Tuesday and now heads to a floor vote.
Assembly Joint Resolution 52, authored by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, asks the president, Congress and NASA to send Atlantis to Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale for display upon its planned retirement in 2008. The bill was approved on a unanimous vote by the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee.
The bill now heads to a vote of the full Assembly, which will likely be held next week.
``I think everyone understands that Atlantis' proper place for retirement should be its birthplace -- Palmdale, California,'' Runner said.
Air Force Plant 42 was the site of the assembly of the entire space shuttle fleet. Atlantis was built at what was then a North American Rockwell facility at the plant between 1980 and 1985.
Atlantis first went into space in October 1985, flying an undisclosed Defense Department mission. The orbiter has since flown 20 more missions, including launching the Magellan probe to Venus and the Galileo probe to Jupiter.
NASA plans to retire Atlantis after a mission tentatively scheduled for spring 2008.
The agency plans to replace the space shuttle fleet with a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle. NASA plans to select a contractor to develop the new spacecraft later this year. The only space shuttle in a museum is the first one, Enterprise, which never went into space but was used for flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base in the late 1970s. Enterprise is on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum annex at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
(color in AV edition only -- ran in AV and SAC editions) The space shuttle Atlantis lands at Edwards Air Force Base after a mission in February 2001. An Assembly resolution asks that the craft be returned to California when it's retired in 2008.
John Lazar/Daily News file photo