Space Shuttle Endeavour: LA’s Newest Resident

Space shuttle Endeavour: Final mission – Framework – Photos and Video – Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times.

Super exciting day in Southern California! Space shuttle Endeavor has arrived!

I live too far to the east to catch a glimpse as Endeavor, mounted piggy-back on a 747,  flew a serpentine route above LA landmarks. The 747 carrying the shuttle flew very low, sometimes as low as 300 feet!

Local TV news stations had spectacular video of Endeavor’s homecoming.

News story from the San Bernardino Sun

Space shuttle Endeavour crosscrossed the state in a final curtain call today before cheering crowds greeted its landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

Hitching a ride on top of a modified Boeing 747, the shuttle departed Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert this morning, circling the high desert that gave birth to the shuttle fleet before heading to Northern California.

The flyover took Endeavour over the state Capitol as well as Golden Gate Bridge,

Endeavor flies low over  Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay. Photo by Chris Sheesley

Then it returned to Southern California, where crowds had gathered on clifftops, in skyscrapers, at the ports, along the beach and out on streets to get a glimpse of the youngest orbiter in the shuttle fleet as it rode piggyback on the 747.

But before it’s stunning landing about 1 p.m., the shuttle made appearances at several local landmarks, including the Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Observatory, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Queen Mary and Disneyland.

“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” Endeavor passes over Warner Bros and Disney studios in Burbank. Photo: Dustin Wissmiller

On Oct. 12 and 13, Endeavour will make a 12-mile trek from LAX through Westchester, Inglewood and South Los Angeles before ending up at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.

The center is one of four institutions selected by NASA to receive a retired space shuttle orbiter for permanent display.

Though planners have spent more than a year organizing the move, there is still much to do.

“There’s no existing playbook for moving a spaceship through a city,” said Marty Fabrick, project director for the mission to bring the shuttle to Los Angeles.

“There weren’t a lot of options because of the size of the orbiter. … We considered air-lifting it or using freeways but we quickly determined those weren’t feasible options.

“We did find a route without destroying buildings. But we’re moving utility poles and trees. … I’m very excited to see it on the ground after a year and a half of planning.”

Manufactured by Rockwell International in Palmdale, the Endeavour is the fifth and final NASA shuttle to be built. It replaced the Challenger, which exploded after a 1986 launch, killing all of the astronauts on board.

The Endeavour has a 78-foot wingspan, stands 57 feet tall on the runway and measures 122 feet in length. It has made 25 space missions, and after a final launch in May 2011 had logged 122,883,151 miles.

It’s also known for several firsts, including carrying the first married couple and black female into space, along with the first Japanese national to fly on a U.S. spaceship. It also made the first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

On Oct. 30, the Science Center will put the Endeavour on display in a pavilion until a new addition called the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center is built.

See my Oct. 13 post ENDEAVOR’S LA JOURNEY