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Published January 25 2010

Gabriel: Deals abound on space shuttles

For quite some time now, America has been in an economic crunch. Because of it, many Americans have been forced to look for ways to save money, wherever and whenever possible. Impulse buying has been replaced with “only the essentials” as a guidepost.

Finally, however, it seems the economy is slowly getting back on its feet. There can be no more obvious sign of this than seeing that NASA has recently announced it’s selling used space shuttles.

Really.

The ad might as well read,

“For Sale: Used Space Shuttles. Previously, the MSRP was

$42 million dollars, but these spacecraft must go! So we’ve slashed the price to $28.8 million! And if you act quickly, we’ll throw in a used shuttle engine, FREE!”

Has there ever been a better barometer to gauge buyer’s confidence than NASA?

You’re already nodding your head and smiling, aren’t you? You’re thinking, “That drive to Phoenix doesn’t seem so long anymore.”

But let’s be honest here: Shuttles aren’t what they used to be. Guys, 20 years ago if you wanted to impress the gal, you picked her up in a shuttle. Now, they’re no hotter than a 10-year-old Taurus sitting on Ragnar’s Cash and Carry Used Auto Lot.

Still, NASA is confident they’ll get takers.

In fact, space shuttle Discovery is already spoken for, as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will be its future home. But don’t worry, there are plenty more in stock. Atlantis and Endeavor are available, and the Enterprise may be as well.

The sticking point for me with the Enterprise is that it was only a test craft. This baby never went up into space – it lacks space cred. If you ask me, NASA is being a little greedy. I wouldn’t pay a dime over $24 million for it.

And did I mention financing is available? Also, first-time buyers will receive a $1.5 million-dollar rebate, extended warranty and two leather NASA garment bags.

If you’re considering a purchase – and what’s not to love about this deal – you’ll get your shuttle delivered to the major airport of your choice. It’ll be brought to you strapped onto the back of a 747. But be aware that transportation costs vary depending upon where your airport is located – there’s always a catch.

Removing the shuttle from the back of the plane can be time-consuming, and that’s why NASA will add a third mover to your transportation team at no extra charge.

Reportedly, getting the thing off the back of the 747 is not much different than unloading a refrigerator from a moving truck. Three strong guys, moving straps, it’s really not a big deal.

It seems the biggest stumbling block for many folks considering a purchase, and this may have been a contributing factor for NASA to drop the price, is that assembly is required for the engines.

They’re not saying how the engine parts are packaged, but I’m guessing they come in a few thousand small boxes. I imagine you could stick the boxes inside the shuttle so you don’t have to make two trips getting everything home.

I’m reasonably certain these shuttles, even as old as they are, have satellite radio, GPS and DVD player screens. They’re equipped with modified air bags, a parachute that comes out of the trunk and seat belts.

There’s a kitchen, sleeping quarters … that 10-year-old Taurus isn’t looking so good anymore, is it?


Christopher Gabriel is host of “The Christopher Gabriel Program” from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays on AM 970 WDAY. Read his blog at http://cgabriel.com and preview his show at www.areavoices.com/cgabriel