Space Shuttle Endeavour will soon make its final journey and will retire at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. But it will make some stops and flyovers along the way, NASA said Friday.
Endeavour, piggybacked on the back of a modified 747 airplane, is scheduled to leave Florida's Kennedy Space Center at sunrise on September 17. After flyovers of the area it will head west. Endeavour will make low flyovers of NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the Michoud Assembly plant near New Orleans.
The next stop, NASA says, will be Houston, which bid for a retired shuttle but did not get one. Several members of the Texas legislative delegation were outraged and expressed their displeasure to NASA, but to no avail.
As Endeavour approaches the Texas coast, it will fly over Houston, Galveston and Clearlake. The 747 carrying Endeavour will touch down at Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center. Endeavour will spend the rest of September 17 and all of the September 18 there.
At sunrise on the 19th Endeavour will depart Houston and refuel in El Paso at Biggs Army Airfield. The next low flyovers at 1,500-feet will take place over White Sands Tests Facility in New Mexico and the Dryden Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
If for some reason a shuttle cannot land in California or Florida, White Sands has served as an emergency shuttle landing facility. White Sands was used once for a shuttle landing as a test. So much sand was kicked up into the vehicle that after that, White Sands became a last resort landing site.
Edwards in California is where shuttles landed during the early days of the program, and later when weather at the Kennedy Space Center was not cooperative.
After the Edwards flyover, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, SCA, will land at Dryden.
The extensive flyovers will continue on the September 20, first over Northern California. The SCA is scheduled to pass near the Ames Research Center outside San Francisco. It will make numerous flyovers of landmarks, NASA says, in multiple cities including San Francisco and Sacramento.
The final flyovers will take place over Los Angeles before landing at LAX around 11 a.m. Pacific time.
Endeavour will remain there until October 12 when it will be towed through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center.
Endeavour made its first trip to space on May 7, 1992. It replaced Challenger, which exploded in 1986, killing seven crew members, including teacher Christa McAuliffe.