Endeavor Lands in L.A. Friday

By City News Service

After logging 25 missions and traveling nearly 123 million miles orbiting the Earth, the space shuttle Endeavour will take its final flight Friday as it heads to its retirement home at the California Science Center at Exposition Park.

Follow the Endeavor’s Journey Through Pictures at the NASA Headquarters Flickr Slideshow

Endeavour, which has spent 299 days in orbit circling the planet 4,671 times, took off from Kennedy Space Center at 4:22 PDT Wednesday atop a modified Boeing 747 and flew to Ellington Field near Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it landed at 8:40 a.m. PDT.

Look Up In The Sky! Endeavor Takes Its Final Flight: Space Shuttle Endeavour is ferried by NASA’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) over the Kennedy Space Center in the early morning hours of September 19, 2012 as it departs for California. NASA pilots Jeff Moultrie and Bill Rieke are at the controls of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Photo taken by NASA photographer Robert Markowitz in the backseat of a NASA T-38 chase plane with NASA pilot Greg C. Johnson at the controls.(Photo by NASA/ Robert Markowitz)

Following takeoff, the aircraft carrying the shuttle made one final low pass along Florida’s Space Coast, passing over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Kennedy, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and Patrick Air Force Base. It is due to land at LAX on Friday, according to NASA officials.

After spending the night at Ellington Field, the shuttle was set to take off at sunrise today, make a refueling stop at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas, then make low-level flyovers of White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces in southern New Mexico and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, near the border of Kern and Los Angeles counties, where it is due to land around noon, according to NASA.

Endeavour will take off from Dryden Friday morning and make low-level flyovers of San Francisco and Sacramento before circling back south toward Los Angeles International Airport. It is expected to make 1,500-foot flyovers of the Southland to give people a view of the historic aircraft before it arrives at LAX around 11 a.m.

Among the sites the shuttle is expected to fly over beginning around 10:30 a.m. Friday are the Getty Center, the Griffith Observatory, the Science Center, Los Angeles City Hall, Disneyland, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, the Queen Mary, Venice Beach, Universal Studios, Malibu and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Given the magnitude of the spectacle, local authorities warned that people who want to get a glimpse of the shuttle need to find a safe spot — and not try to watch while driving.

“Obviously we want people to take in this majestic show as these aircraft make sweeping low-level passes over Southern California’s iconic spots,” Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Scott Kroeber said. “But if you’re driving, please drive and don’t try and take in the show simultaneously.

We don’t want this to be the mother of all distracted driver incidents. We know that we’re better than that.”

California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Calvin Aubrey said additional patrols will be working Friday morning, “especially along the 405 corridor where the shuttle will be passing over.”

Michael Feldman of Los Angeles World Airports noted that patrols will also be in place around LAX.

“There will be no loitering allowed on the perimeter of the airport,” Feldman said. “We’re doing our best to get that word out as well.”

The shuttle will remain at a United Airlines hangar at LAX until Oct. 12, when it will begin a two-day, 12-mile journey on city streets to the California Science Center at Exposition Park, where it will go on permanent display.

Endeavour’s overland route from LAX to the science center requires the removal of hundreds of trees and the reconfiguring of power lines and other obstacles to clear the way for the massive aircraft.

The California Science Center Foundation has agreed to replant around four times as many trees than will be removed in some neighborhoods along the route.

Endeavour, whose construction was completed in 1991 at a facility in Palmdale, was NASA’s fifth and final orbiter, built as a replacement for the destroyed Challenger. Its first mission was in May of 1992 and its last was in May of 2011. It is due to go on display at the museum on Oct. 30.

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September 20, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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