SCIENCE -- September 21, 2012 at 4:16 PM EDT
Shuttle Endeavour Lands in Los Angeles After Long Aerial Tour
Strapped to the back of a jumbo jet, Space Shuttle Endeavour swooped over the California state capital and circled San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and the Santa Monica Pier in a highly choreographed final flight before touching down at the Los Angeles International Airport around 1 p.m. local time Friday. From there, it will be taxied to its final resting spot at the California Science Center.
Endeavour was born out of tragedy -- commissioned in 1987 to replace the shuttle Challenger after the 1986 disaster. In its nine-year career -- that's short for a shuttle -- it has flown 123 million miles. Endeavour has carried astronauts on missions to repair the Hubble Space Telescope and a communications satellite. It transported the first African-American woman and the first married couple to space. It was named in a national contest by elementary school students after the British HMS Endeavor, the sailing ship, commanded by 18th century explorer James Cook.
Fearing traffic congestion and accidents, state and city officials urged residents not to watch Endeavour's Friday afternoon flyover from their cars.
But the big disruption will come from the orbiter's crosstown commute through Los Angeles streets, which has required removal of nearly 500 trees along with light poles, sign posts and other obstacles blocking its way. Museum officials have pledged to replant double the number of chopped trees. Associated Press reports.