After flying more than 100 million miles in space at mindboggling speeds, NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour is now on a different sort of journey -- crawling through the streets of Los Angeles at 2 mph (3.2 kph), for a two-day, 12-mile trip to its new home at the California Science Center where it will become a museum piece.
“When else do you get to see something like this in your own backyard?” said Jennie DiPaolo, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “We can go see it in the museum, but this is our neighborhood. We drive by here every day.”
The 170,000-pound (77,110kg) space shuttle left the Los Angeles International Airport hangar late Thursday evening, and began its final trip through neighborhoods and major roadways in one of the largest cities in the United States.
Endeavour is being moved on a 160-wheel carrier that is normally used to carry heavy equipment, bridges and oil rigs. The wheels can move in any direction, which will allow the shuttle to maneuver through a tough course that will bring it inches from buildings, driveways and sidewalks.
There are limited public viewing areas in place along Endeavour’s road trip, since some streets and sidewalks were closed due to the spacecraft’s 78-foot (23.9 meters) wingspan and 58-foot-long (17.6 meters) tail.
The journey of the five-story-tall shuttle took almost a year to plan, since the logistics of moving the spacecraft had to be ironed out, along with putting security measures in place. Approximately 400 trees had to be cut down, cable and telephone wires were raised and steel plates were installed to protect the city’s streets.
The spacecraft was transported from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to California last month attached to the top of a Boeing 747. Endeavour, along with the space shuttles Discovery, Enterprise and Atlantis were permanently retired after NASA ended its 30-year shuttle program in 2011, which included more than 130 missions.
Endeavour made 25 trips to space and orbited the earth nearly 4,700 times over a 20-year period.
The spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the California Science Center at 9 p.m. Saturday, where it will be displayed permanently, “to inspire the next generation of explorers and engineers,” NASA’s website stated.