Endeavour makes splash as it crawls home
Space shuttle will be put on permanent display at California Science Center
Retired U.S. space shuttle Endeavour inched through the streets Southern California on Saturday, a poignant and patriotic trip to its final resting place.
Thousands have gotten a peek at the huge spacecraft, wheeled through the roads and highways of Inglewood and Los Angeles. It is expected to arrive late Saturday at the California Science Center, where it will be put on permanent display.
"This once-in-a-lifetime event is a cause for celebration," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
The 12-mile slow trek started early Friday from Los Angeles International Airport.
The shuttle was to stop at the Forum in Inglewood on Saturday morning for a celebration in the arena's parking lot. Authorities estimate that 10,000 to 14,000 spectators can be accommodated.
It will stop at the intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King boulevards in south Los Angeles in the afternoon.
Officials for months planned the logistics of the move for months and are most concerned about public safety. The removal of utility lines and streetlights and the controversial felling of some trees have made the journey possible.
Police expected large crowds and heavy traffic, and urged spectators to come early and be prepared to stand long hours.
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, California, in 1991 at a cost of $1.7 billion. It was the baby of the shuttle fleet, built as a replacement for Challenger, which had 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 in 25 flights. 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 on its website that it is building a new addition to its facility and plans to begin displaying Endeavour on October 30.
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