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Mommy, Mommy I Want a Space Shuttle for Christmas!

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How low have we gone...?

From this afternoon's headlines at Military.com.

Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA is telling museums across the country that have expressed interest in obtaining a genuine space shuttle that it's really going to cost them.

How much? A mere $42 million -- including $6 million for shipping and handling.

That's NASA's price tag for cleaning up each of the three remaining shuttles -- now scheduled to be retired in 2010 -- and delivering one to an airport near the museum.

NASA has never charged institutions such as the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum -- which wants at least one of the orbiters -- for rockets, capsules and other artifacts.

But Wednesday, the agency issued a "Request for Information" to gauge museums' interest in obtaining a shuttle -- and the depth of their pockets. At least five locations across the country -- including Kennedy Space Center -- have expressed interest in displaying an orbiter.

The RFI serves "to notify potential recipients of NASA's intent to require potential recipients to assume all costs associated with transfer of these assets," it states.

Another purpose is "identifying whether potential recipient organizations are capable of bearing the full cost of Space Shuttle Orbiter safing and final display preparation . . ."

"Safing" means decontamination of the ship's fuel systems -- including toxic hydrazine -- and removal of other safety and environmental hazards.

NASA spokesman Mike Curie said that, although NASA generally has not charged museums for relics, the agency recognizes that there is now a market for space artifacts. What's more, he said, some museums allowed Apollo-era relics to deteriorate because they got them for free.

-- Christian

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