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Down to earth: Retired space shuttle sets up home in science museum

Published time: October 15, 2012 12:24
Edited time: October 15, 2012 16:24
A spectators holds US and Mexican flags as the Space Shuttle Endeavour nears the end of its journey to the California Science Center in Exposition Park in Los Angeles October 14, 2012 (AFP Photo / Robyn Beck)

A spectators holds US and Mexican flags as the Space Shuttle Endeavour nears the end of its journey to the California Science Center in Exposition Park in Los Angeles October 14, 2012 (AFP Photo / Robyn Beck)

The space shuttle Endeavour has finally “docked” in Los Angeles where it is due to go on permanent display in the near future. 17 hours behind schedule, it was a long road to the California Science Center.

­400 trees were removed to allow the shuttle to pass. However, officials said most of the trees that gave them real trouble could not be cut down because they were either old or treasured for different reasons, including some planted in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Movers had planned a slow trip from the very beginning, saying the shuttle that once orbited at more than 17,000 mph would move at 2 mph in its final voyage through Inglewood and southern Los Angeles.

AFP Photo / Robyn Beck
AFP Photo / Robyn Beck

­Even the modest estimates turned out to be too generous, with Endeavour often creeping along at a barely detectable pace when it wasn't at a dead stop due to difficult-to-manoeuvre obstacles.

AFP Photo / Robyn Beck
AFP Photo / Robyn Beck

­The retired space shuttle sat in the grounds of the museum for several more hours before finally moving toward a hangar.

"It's just a crazy thing that we did but we pulled it off," the curator of aerospace science at the museum Kenneth Philips said.

The team busy transporting the shuttle felt a "great sense of accomplishment" when Endeavour made it onto the museum grounds.

AFP Photo / Robyn Beck
AFP Photo / Robyn Beck

­"It's historic and will be a great memory," a spokesman for the contract mover Jim Hennessy said. "Not too many people will be able to match that – to say, `We moved the space shuttle through the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles.'"

Transporting Endeavour cross-town has cost $10 million, to be paid for by the science center and private donations.

The space shuttle has zipped around the Earth nearly 4,700 times, but its heart is said to have always been in California. Its main engines were built in the San Fernando Valley. The heat tiles were invented in Silicon Valley. Its "fly-by-wire" technology was developed in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey. In 1991, it rolled off the assembly line in the Mojave Desert to replace Challenger, which blew up during liftoff back in 1986.

Watch RT's gallery of Endeavour's final journey