Up for Grabs: Free* Space Shuttle *$29M Postage & Handling Required
Museums vie for soon-to-be-retired spacecraft
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2010 2:23 AM CDT
The space shuttle Atlantis moves away from the International Space Station after undocking, Sunday, May 23, 2010.    (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – NASA is preparing to give away its space shuttle fleet to institutions willing to cough up $28.8 million per spacecraft for cleaning and transportation. Atlantis will be retired after returning from its final mission today and some two dozen museums and other institutions around the country are vying to get their hands on it or its sister ships Endeavor and Discovery when they follow it into retirement later this year, CNN reports.

"These are unique spacecraft, and they truly are one-of-a-kind," said a NASA spokesman. "Each one is a little different, and they are the only reusable spacecraft in the world, ever. I can't imagine an institution not wanting to have it for public display." Discovery had been earmarked for the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, but it's now balking at the handling price. Officials from other institutions, including the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, say they're happy to pay what NASA asks.