Space Shuttle ENDEAVOUR's last RIDE Sept 21,2012. Menlo Park, California

    Written by: Shahida JJ - Posted on: February 24, 2013 | Post your comment here Comments | 中国 (Chinese)

    Google Translation: اُردو | 中文

    Space Shuttle ENDEAVOUR's last RIDE Sept 21,2012. Menlo Park, California

    "Did you watch the Shuttle"? Asks my 23 year old granddaughter, who just drove in from San Francisco city.

    "Yes, yes I did on TV,"I replied,“but the score of tall redwood trees blocked my view!”

    Great excitement in the Bay Area, as Shuttle Endeavour crisscrossed California Friday Sept 21, 2012 in a “Last Hurrah” flight before retiring to a Los Angeles museum. Thousands of spectators jammed rooftop buildings and streets to catch a glimpse of the historic fight. - it was a historical day, Stanford University students and staff were on rooftops or large open spaces; kindergarten and elementary school students were taken to open fields for them to witness a special moment which will be remembered for ever.

    A Short History of Space Shuttle Endeavour

    Space Shuttle Endeavour, named after the first ship commanded by British explorer James Cook. Endeavour, weighing 75 tons, rolled out of an assembly plant in Palmdale, California, in 1991 at a cost of $1.7 billion. It was the baby of the shuttle fleet, built as a replacement for Challenger. Endeavour began service in 1992.

    Over the next 20 years, Endeavour flew some of the most high-profile shuttle missions, covering 25 flightmissions, spent 299 days in Space, orbited the earth nearly 4,700 times, and did nearly 123 million miles. It flew a Spacelab mission and numerous International Space Station assembly missions and rendezvoused with Russia's Mir Space Station.  The shuttle fleet was retired last summer, 2011.

    Flight over California

    The Space Shuttle Endeavour took off from Houston, perched on a specially modified NASA Boeing 747 shuttle aircraft carrier for its last journey.

    Friday September 21, 2012
    Endeavour was the star of a carefully choreographed four-hour tour around California state, intended to give as many spectators as possible a final chance to see it airborne, even if only as cargo. The day began with the 747's morning takeoff from Edwards Air Force base, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Two military fighters escorted the shuttle and recorded its flight.
    Over Golden Gate Bridge

    Shuttle Endeavour, which racked up 123 million miles in space since its delivery to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 20 years ago, notched a few hundred more on top of Boeing 747 jet that transported it over landmarks from the San Francisco Bay area to the Los Angeles basin. The route and its frequent low-altitude passes reflected the historic, bittersweet nature of the orbiter's journey.

    After swooping low over nearby Palmdale, Calif., the place where the shuttle fleet went through final assembly and testing, Endeavour headed north to Sacramento and San Francisco before making its last whirlwind loops across Southern California.

    The Port of Oakland Alert Service said Thursday it had been advised that the shuttle would fly over Walnut Creek and Hayward before flying a "low approach between 200 and 500 feet on Runway 29 at Oakland Airport," and would "do another low approach" over Moffett Field.

    The flight path took Endeavour directly over some of California's most popular tourist attractions, including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the posh mansions of Malibu, the Hollywood sign and Disneyland.

    NASA's white Boeing 747, also flew low and slow over Los Angeles City Hall and Griffith Park, an urban oasis overlooking downtown skyscrapers. Large crowds gathered in the park for an unobstructed view of the iconic spacecraft.

    Flying over LA with fighter jets, just before landing
    It flew past Venice Beach and other sites at about 1,500 feet before executing a pair of flyovers of LAX, as the city's airport is often called. Then the 747 gracefully circled the field and landed at LA airport amid fanfare.

    Friday Sept 21, 2012
    Touchdown on the airport's longest runway occurred at just before 1 p.m., about 20 minutes behind schedule, with the four-engine converted airliner and its prize cargo slowly making their way to waiting dignitaries.

    At Los Angeles Airport
    Spectators jammed the bluffs overlooking the south side of the airport, including some youngsters who came early with their parents and bundled up in sleeping bags waiting for the landing.

    Drivers stopped their cars and wandered on the 105 Freeway near the airport to watch the shuttle shortly before it landed,

    Spectators lined up 100 deep at an overlook next to the Los Angeles airport, bringing umbrellas, folding chairs and tripods for cameras.

    Endeavour’s road trip into Los Angeles city

    Friday October 12, 2012
    Endeavour was scheduled to be trucked roughly 12 miles through city streets to its place of honor at the museum. But as befits a mature star requiring some last minute touch-ups, Endeavour spent three weeks inside a cavernous hangar at the airport being prepared for its coming road trip.

    City and museum officials had opted to keep Endeavour's 78 feet wing span and wings attached due to fears of potentially damaging delicate heat-shield tiles.

    Shuttle Endeavour finally completes its Los Angeles journey

    It took the spacecraft that once reached 17,000mph (28,160km/h) three days instead of the expected two to travel just 12 miles (19km).

    Hundreds of trees, traffic lights, power lines and parking meters were removed to clear the path.Thousands of city residents turned out to see it pass.
    On the road in LA

    NASA took its shuttles out of service last year in order to focus on destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, such as asteroids and Mars.

    Bridge crossing

    For its trip across Los Angeles, Endeavour was placed on a 160-wheeled carrier which was guided by remote control.A tight squeeze in the streets of Los Angeles

    After an early bumpy ride, it was backed into a shopping centre car park in the city's Westchester neighbourhood as crowds cheered.

    A delicate task was accomplished around midnight Friday local time (07:00 GMT Saturday), when Endeavour crossed a bridge over the Interstate 405 highway.

    Crews had spent hours transferring the shuttle to a special, lighter towing dolly, which was then pulled across by a pickup truck.

    When the journey resumed in daylight, the operators soon found themselves up against trees, despite the advance removal of 400 along the route.

    Most of the "problem" trees could not be cut down because they were old or were treasured for other reasons - some had been planted in honour of Martin Luther King.

    Crew members had to come up with creative solutions such as dipping a wing under branches, cutting them off or raising it over the trees.

    However, spectators generally remained good-humoured throughout the spacecraft's journey.

    "Maybe someday one of these kids that see Endeavour, look up at it at the California Science Center, will be that person that walks on the planet Mars?" remarked aspectator Astronaut.

    Orbiters placed in Museums

    Enterprise is on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

    Discovery is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

    Atlantis is due to be put on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

    Endeavour has been moved by land to the California Science Center, Los Angeles.
    Shuttle exhibit at California Science Center, Los Angeles

    Two other shuttles – Challenger and Columbia were destroyed in accidents that killed all aboard. Challenger exploded shortly on takeoff in 1988 and Columbia broke apart on re-entry into earth’s atmosphere in 2003.

    NASA ended its 30-year shuttle program in July 2011, all space crafts have now become exhibits.

    Click to view picture gallery

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