The Space Shuttle Endeavour was airborne for the last time yesterday (September 21, 2012), making a final sweep around California skies before its last-ever landing in Los Angeles. Endeavour blasted to orbit 25 times during its two decades as one of NASA’s fleet of space-going shuttles. This weekend, crews will begin the several-week process unbolting the shuttle from the 747 jumbo jet that carried it on its final flight. Endeavour will then be placed on a special flatbed trailer in preparation for a 12-mile commute through the streets of Los Angeles to its new retirement home: a permanent display at the California Science Center.
Millions of people saw Endeavour as it flew over several cities across the southern U.S. Twitter users followed the journey online (hashtagged #SpotTheShuttle). Meanwhile, work crews have spent weeks clearing a path for Endeavour’s final 12-mile trek through Los Angeles streets, removing trees and dismantling utility poles. The road trip – scheduled for early October – to the California Science Center has been billed as a parade.
There’s been some outcry from Los Angeles residents, who’ve objected to the cutting down of about 400 trees in order to make room for the five-story-high shuttle with a 78-foot wingspan. California Science Center officials have promised that twice as many trees will be planted to replace those cut for the shuttle’s final parade.
Bottom line: Millions glimpsed and photographed Space Shuttle Endeavour Friday (September 21, 2012), as it made its final aerial spin over California. In the coming weeks, the shuttle is being prepared for an early October ride via flatbed truck through the streets of Los Angeles to its retirement home, a permanent display at the California Science Center.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.