After 25 missions in space, the shuttle Endeavour will make its way to its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on September 20, center President Jeffrey Rudolph announced.
The shuttle will be ferried on a 747 NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft from Florida to Los Angeles International Airport. NASA will work on it at the airport. Then, on October 12, it will be driven approximately 13 miles at less than one mile per hour through the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood to the California Science Center, just south of downtown. The plan is for the shuttle to arrive at the science center the night of October 13.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says 212 streetlights will need to be removed for the shuttle's trip. He says the city is making every effort to reduce the number of trees that will need to be uprooted, but those that are will be replaced by twice as many. Since Endeavour is about 58 feet tall, all overhead utility lines will also need to be removed.
Stephanie Stilson, operations manager for NASA, explains that there are strict weather constraints as the shuttle is offloaded from the 747 and placed via a crane onto the overland transporter.
The overland transporter is the same vehicle used to transport Endeavour from Palmdale, where it was built, to Edwards Air Force Base.
Once the shuttle arrives at the Science Center, it will be temporarily displayed horizontally in the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion of the main museum. Endeavour will be displayed vertically in its final resting place at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center once construction is complete, in about five years. Visitors won’t be able to touch and feel the shuttle lest they damage it, but it will be displayed so visitors can get very close to the shuttle and see it from many perspectives.
The city of Los Angeles has recent experience with transporting massive items through its streets and celebrating them. At the end of February, the challenging 11-day transport of a 340-ton granite boulder called “Levitated Mass” began. This outdoor artwork was driven slowly and carefully at night through four counties to its home at the LA County Museum of Art, good practice for the planning and logistics for Endeavour’s journey through the streets of Los Angeles.
The name Endeavour was chosen by schoolchildren after a ship built to cross the South Pacific in the 1700s. Endeavour replaced Challenger, which exploded in 1986, killing seven astronauts. It made its first trip to space on May 7, 1992.