May 24, 2013
Space shuttle Endeavour set for road trip to final Los Angeles home
The retired space shuttle Endeavour was getting set on Thursday for a road trip unlike any of its previous journeys, one that will see it crawl through the streets of Los Angeles instead of hurtling through the solitary reaches of space.
Endeavour will nose out of Los Angeles International Airport at about 2 a.m. on Friday as it begins a two-day ground journey atop a massive wheeled transporter to its final resting place at the California Science Centre on the edge of downtown.
"It's a working piece of American history. It's a fantastic technical innovation. It represents the very best, I think, of what people can do when they decide to cooperate and do good things," said Ken Phillips, aerospace curator at the science centre, where the hulking craft will go on public display.
The California Science Centre beat out a number of other institutions when NASA chose it as the permanent home for the 80-ton winged spaceship that flew from 1992 to 2011.
Endeavour has hop-scotched across the country from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on the back of a modified Boeing 747. Spectators have cheered and wept at the sight of the space vehicle, which was taken out of service due to the historic end of the NASA shuttle program that began with a launch in 1981.
Endeavour has been parked at Los Angeles International Airport since Sept. 21, when it arrived there after a ceremonial piggyback flight around California.
Workers have felled 400 curbside trees along Endeavour's 12-mile land path to ease its road journey. The California Science Centre will plant more than 1,000 trees along the route in place of those uprooted.
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said that when the Endeavour flew over the city last month, she and her colleagues ran up to the roof of City Hall where they watched it with tears in their eyes.