Space Shuttle Endeavour is getting readied to make her last flight. The space shuttle's final destination is to the California Science Center where she will be placed on public display.
This trip has been in the making since the fleet's retirement. In Oct. 2011, NASA transferred title and ownership of Endeavour to the California Space Center with plans to move the shuttle the following year.
Now the plans have been finalized and Endeavour will be taking flight to California aboard NASA's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. According to a Sept. 7 announcement, Endeavour will leave the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 17 and begin the journey west. Currently, the space shuttle is scheduled to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport on Sept. 20.
The itinerary for the shuttle's first day of travel include several low flyovers over various locations in Florida, Mississippi, New Orleans, La., and Texas. At this time Endeavour will be landed at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center and will stay there until the morning of Sept. 19.
On Wed., Sept. 19, flight will commence and do a low flyover in New Mexico and then stop again once reaching NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Flight will resume the next morning for the final leg of the journey. Several flyovers are scheduled over various California cities. For the full itinerary, see NASA's announcement.
The shuttle will land at Los Angeles International Airport and remain there for a few weeks before making the final 12-mile journey by road to the California Science Center on Oct. 13.
Last week, various media outlets reported on the issue of moving the large spacecraft by road. It was determined about 400 mature trees would need to be taken down in order to make room for Endeavour to have clear travel path on roadways. Several residents are against this plan, noting it will disrupt the local eco-system, ABC News had reported.
Endeavour is the last of the retired shuttle fleet that will be moved. Shuttles Discovery and Enterprise made their journeys last spring. Digital Journal had been on the scene when Discovery made her flyover through Fairfax County, Va., and also been present for her arrival at Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy center in the spring.
Shuttle Enterprise, which had been a prototype and never actually flown in space, now resides at the Intrepid Museum in New York City. Enterprise was moved from the space in the Udvar-Hazy Center where Discovery now resides. Space shuttle Atlantis is to remain at the Kennedy Space Center and will be placed on display there.
According to NASA, "Endeavour completed 25 missions, spent 299 days in orbit, and orbited Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles."
Now her new mission, like her sister spacecraft, will be to educate and inspire future generations of scientists and astronauts.