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Intrepid Museum reopens

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Space may be mankind's final frontier, but for the Shuttle Enterprise - for now - it's a steel structure at the end of a tunnel aboard a 70-year-old aircraft carrier permanently moored on the Hudson.

Volunteers, museum representatives and luminaries reopened the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum's shuttle pavilion, Wednesday, for the first time since Sandy had its way with the tennis bubble that used to house the Enterprise.

"It's really an exciting place to be," Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum volunteer Richard Berliner said.

At 21 years old, Berliner enlisted in the army as a medic. At 71 years old, he climbed aboard the Intrepid, Wednesday, as a lover of history.

"It's to inspire, honor and to learn," he said.

But others came to see the shuttle for reasons more grounded in fiction than fact.

"I'm the captain of the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is a part of a group called Starfleet International," a man wearing a Star Trek uniform named Keith Shikowitz said.

Trekkies like Shikowitz helped to name the Enterprise after their beloved starship in the 1970s.

"I'm in heaven just being here with it," Shikowitz said. "I'm in awe because of its size, its magnitude and what it stands for."

The real Enterprise never actually entered outerspace. NASA used the shuttle for test flights in our atmosphere.

"The willingness and the courage to go down that path is unique," museum co-chairman Bruce Mosler said. "And that's why we're so grateful to have the very first and the prototype of all other shuttles."

But it takes two to space race. The new exhibit also features a Soviet Soyuz space capsule once launched by rocket into the heavens with a man inside.

The Intrepid welcomed the reopening of those Cold War space relics with much pageantry. Going forward, museum leaders just hope they built the new structure with the right stuff to allow the exhibit to survive future storms, or - as those in mission control might've reported to the astronauts aboard the Enterprise - to remain "performance nominal."

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