November 2, 2012
The effort to bring her to the west coast was years in the planning and riddled with complexities and controversies, but the space shuttle Endeavour has finally gone on display at her permanent resting place in the California Science Center in Los Angeles, after 25 missions between 1992 and 2012.
Transporting Endeavour from her home spaceport of Cape Canavarel to the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion in Los Angeles was a mission of an altogether different kind. She was mounted on the top of a NASA Boeing 747 for the cross country voyage, and made several fueling stops and ceremonial flyovers en route, including over Tucson, Arizona; San Francisco and Sacramento.
A few weeks after she was welcomed at Los Angeles International Airport, it was time for the final leg of the journey. During the 12th and 13th October, Endeavour inched along a 12-mile route through the streets of L.A to her new home at Exposition Park – a journey that saw her travel at a top speed of 2 mph, accommodated by the removal of power lines, traffic lights, streetlamps and even trees (which are being replaced on a two-for-one basis).
Narrow stretches of road were specially elevated at certain sections, to ensure the 170,000 pound craft had adequate clearance space, though she still came within inches of buildings and protruded over driveways and pavements at various points along the way.
This week, after racking up 123 million miles and spending 299 days in space, Endeavour has gone on display to the public in a temporary pavilion at the California Science Center, where she’ll remain for around five years while a permanent space wing is constructed.
The pavilion also houses the California Story gallery, displaying various images from the shuttle’s history and artifacts that flew into space with her. Eventually, she’ll be displayed in the upright takeoff postition with twin solid rocket boosters and external tank attached.
Viewing Endeavour requires a timed ticket (adults $8.25, children $5) which can be combined with entrance to the 7-storey IMAX cinema or the Cleopatra exhibit.
The California Science Center, 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037 Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to Los Angeles from London Heathrow.
Header photo © pinguino