Space Shuttle Endeavour's Long Slog Home
The trip along roads was delayed due to obstacles
Michael Martinez CNN
October 14, 2012LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Crowds lined streets and gathered on rooftops early Sunday in Los Angeles as the space shuttle Endeavour, the beloved symbol of the end of an era, inched its way to its resting place hours later than originally planned.
The shuttle is expected to reach the California Science Center, where it will be put on permanent display, by mid-morning -- well after the originally scheduled time Saturday night.
Organizers of the craft's ceremonial trip through town had taken pains to make room for the 78-foot wide, 122-foot long shuttle, cutting down trees and dismantling traffic signals.
But on the trek, organizers discovered more trees to prune to protect Endeavour's exterior.
Dramatic video showed the shuttle, which successfully carried out 25 space missions, moving slowly along city streets, passing with an inch of some traffic poles and buildings.
Specialists are part of the convoy to make sure that Endeavour and its transporter platform, which together weigh more than 80 tons, don't stress the underground water and sewer systems. Crews laid 2,700 steel plates on parts of the route.
"This once-in-a-lifetime event is a cause for celebration," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Gwendolyn Crews, owner of a preschool, bought an American flag to wave at the passing orbiter on Saturday. She said she plans to take her entire preschool to see the Endeavour settle into the museum.
"I think this is a history-making moment here in Los Angeles, California, and I want to be able to share this with my kids, my grandkids, my great-grandkids of this great event -- and the children of our school," Crews said.
Latasha Covington and her children, 9-year-old Skilyn and 4-year-old Amarie, brought a chair to stand on to get a view over the crowds.
"I've been here 32 years in L.A. and I've never seen anything like this, so it's part of history. I wanted them to see that," Covington said.
The 12-mile trip started early Friday from Los Angeles International Airport.
Endeavour, along with Discovery, Enterprise and Atlantis, became a museum piece after NASA ended its 30-year shuttle program in July 2011. All four shuttles have been permanently retired from service.
Named for the first ship commanded by British explorer James Cook, Endeavour rolled out of an assembly plant in Palmdale, Calif., in 1991 at a cost of $1.7 billion. It was the baby of the shuttle fleet, built as a replacement for Challenger, which exploded shortly after its 10th launch.
Over the next 20 years, Endeavour flew some of the highest-profile shuttle missions, covering 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 science museum has been trumpeting the arrival of the shuttle, saying it is building a new addition to its facility and will begin displaying Endeavour on Oct. 30.
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