Los Angeles County, California, isn't like outer space. It doesn't have a lot of room for a space shuttle to move around.
The numbers say it all: Some 265 trees, 202 street lights, seven power poles, six traffic lights, two overhead signs, and two railroad crossing arms have been removed from the 12-mile route that Space Shuttle Endeavour will travel next month to its retirement home at the California Science Center, according to the Los Angeles mayor’s office.
While engineers finished their work making the shuttle safe for public viewing, city workers in California have been busy making the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles suitable for an orbiter to pass through.
One of the largest buildings in the world is opening its doors to the public, and those lucky enough to enter may see a space shuttle orbiter being prepared for retirement.
"This is a very special and unique opportunity," says John Stine, KSC Visitor Complex director of sales and marketing. "(The VAB) has been closed for over 30 years."
Open only to NASA employees and a select few, this 525-foot-tall building was originally built as the assembly location for Apollo/Saturn vehicles. During the space shuttle program it was the location where the shuttle orbiter was mated to the external tank and solid rocket boosters.
"With the end of the shuttle program and as a prelude to the next phase of manned space flight, we have the opportunity to gain access to the building for a very limited period of time," says Stine.
Stine makes no promises that guests will see an orbiter, but he says that space shuttle Endeavour will be in the VAB indefinitely. "It's a great bonus to come in, not only to be in awe of the inside of this facility," he says, "but then seeing Endeavour being prepared for its trip out West."