News Headlines

Endeavour on its way to California Science Center

Endeavour set out Friday morning on its final journey -- a laboriously slow 12-mile trek

Endeavour on its way to California Science Center 2

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The space shuttle Endeavour, which has flown nearly 123 million miles, set out this morning on what should be its final journey -- a laboriously slow 12-mile trek from LAX to its retirement home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.

It began rolling out of a hangar at the airport around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, said Mary Grady of Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX.

After a minor mechanical glitch affecting the transport vehicle delayed its scheduled 2 a.m. departure, Endeavour, sitting atop a high-tech flatbed carrier, left the airport at 2:15 a.m. today, a Science Center volunteer said.

The 2-mile per hour trip is being referred to by organizers as "Mission 26," since the orbiter completed 25 space missions. The shuttle's tiles are waterproof, so rain along the route will not slow the mission down, said Ken Phillips, the Science Center's curator for aerospace science.

By 5:45 a.m., Endeavour reached its first scheduled stop, a parking lot at the intersection of La Tijera Boulevard and Sepulveda Eastway, where it will remain until 1:30 p.m..

NASA announced in April 2011 that Endeavour would be permanently housed at the Science Center -- returning to the region where it came into being. It was built in Palmdale starting in 1987 to replace Challenger, which exploded 73 seconds after takeoff on Jan. 28, 1986.

Endeavour made its first flight May 7, 1992, and completed its final space mission on June 1, 2011, having flown 122,883,151 miles in 4,671 orbits around the Earth.

Organizers say that working out the route from LAX to the Science Center required a degree of planning worthy of a space mission, and though this journey is taking place on terra firma, parts of it will be harrowing, with the orbiter's 78-foot wingspan and five-story height taking its fragile tiles to within inches of buildings at various points along the way.

Before the shuttle could be transported through city streets, crews removed 268 trees and trimmed another 265 within Los Angeles city limits. The city will plant at least 702 trees to make up for the lost ones, officials said.   Additionally, 128 trees were removed in Inglewood and are to be replaced by twice that number.

Plans also called for crews from L.A.'s Street Lighting, Transportation and Water and Power departments to temporarily remove 222 street lights, 63 traffic signals, 35 power poles, 11 parking meters and two overhead signs.

Endeavour will do the bulk of its travel along Manchester, Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards. Its weight -- 151,205 pounds -- is too much for the roads on some parts of the route, so engineers installed 2,180 steel plates to support the weight of the shuttle plus its transporter.

Crews began closing streets to accommodate the shuttle's move as early as 10 p.m. Thursday. The shuttle is expected to arrive at the Science Center around 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Authorities said streets and sidewalks will be closed along the shuttle's route. However, three public viewing events are scheduled for Saturday.

Around 8 a.m. Saturday, the shuttle will stop in front of the Forum in Inglewood. Parking for spectators will be available at the Hollywood Park Race Track, which officials said would open at 4 a.m. Saturday.

Around 2 p.m. Saturday, Endeavour's drivers will stop for another 30 minutes at the intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King, Jr. boulevards.

That stop includes speeches by city officials and a performance by the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

Large parking lots have also been dedicated for the public to get a glimpse of the orbiter as it rolls into the Exposition Park area Saturday night, including four lots between Bill Robertson Lane and Vermont Avenue north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

The Los Angeles Police Department warned those hoping to catch a glimpse of the shuttle to expect large crowds and heavy traffic. Police Chief Charlie Beck said nearly 700 cadets and volunteers will be on hand during the trip to help keep things moving safely.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Saturday will be running additional Metro rail service trips to Exposition Park, which is served by two stations at Expo/Vermont and Expo Park/USC.

Bus service in the areas along the shuttle route will experience disruptions during Endeavor's final trip, according to Metro spokesman Marc Littman. Service detours are planned along Manchester Boulevard on Friday night and Crenshaw Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on Saturday.

To accommodate those wishing to see the Shuttle move into its new location, Metro's Expo Line will run at 6-minute intervals from 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Metro Red, Purple and Gold Line trains will run with extra cars at 10-minute headways from 2 to 11 p.m. Metro staff will also be stationed along the Expo line at Union Station and the 7th/Metro Station to assist with transfers, fare purchases, directions and information on bus detours.

Those who can't make it to see the shuttle on Saturday will only have to wait 17 days to see it up close. The Science Center's Phillips said the shuttle will be on public display beginning Oct. 30.

comments powered by Disqus

Photo Galleries

  • World's most empathetic countries
    Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

    World's most empathetic countries

    Michigan State University has put together a list of the most empathetic countries. Researchers interviewed more than 100,000 adults from 63 countries and found "higher empathy countries also have higher levels of collectivism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, self-esteem, emotionality, subjective well-being, and prosocial behavior." Find out the top 10 countries that made the list.

    Read More »
  • On this day: October 22
    Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

    On this day: October 22

    The first parachute jump takes place, "Pretty Boy" Floyd is gunned down, football meets television, and The Supremes top the charts, all on this day.

    Read More »
  • Everything you wanted to know about the Electoral College
    William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

    Everything you wanted to know about the Electoral College

    The person ahead in the popular vote might not actually win the presidency. Why? The Electoral College takes the final vote -- not us.

    Read More »
  • Best Clinton, Trump lines from Alfred E. Smith dinner

    Best Clinton, Trump lines from Alfred E. Smith dinner

      Less than a day after their heated final presidential debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton traded shots at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner. Here's a look at the most memorable lines from the event.

    Read More »
  • Most popular Halloween pet costumes
    John Moore/Getty Images

    Most popular Halloween pet costumes

    Halloween isn't just for humans to dress in costume. About 16 percent of consumers plan to dress their pets up too, according to the National Retail Federation. The group put together a list of the top costumes for pets. Click through to see what made the list, including the devil.

    Read More »