by Gianni Marasco
At sunrise at Griffith Observatory, a sleepy crowd of nearly one thousand awaited the arrival of the space shuttle Endeavor. So many had spent the night on the Observatory grounds that the parking lot was filled by 6:30 a.m., September 21.
When the shuttle finally flew by, loaded on its jumbo jet, some five hours later, the crowd at the observatory had grown to more than 8,000. Several thousand more lined Mt. Hollywood and the ridges of Griffith Park. Thousands of cameras, cell phones and i-pads clicked, hundreds of expensive cameras turned on tripods, camcorders followed every turn. Children screamed, parents cheered and then it was gone.
Named after an 18th Century British naval vessel, the space shuttle Endeavor was transported to the Los Angeles International Airport on a large Boeing 747, then removed with a complex and intricate array of cranes and restraints.
The now retired shuttle is to be donated to the California Science Center in LA after trekking down the streets of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard.
Endeavor was constructed as a replacement for the doomed craft Challenger which was destroyed shortly after launch. After its 25 mission career, Endeavor was finally decommissioned in May of 2011 spanning a 19 year service.
After its original conception, a sophisticated EDO-Extended Duration Orbiter was added to allow for a 28-Day mission, although that flight never occurred. In 2005 Endeavor underwent a total overhaul which allowed a transfer of power from the International Space Station to the craft.
The entire trip from Florida to California took three days with several flybys and stops along the way.
To ensure a safe journey from Endeavor’s current position at LAX to the Science Center, NASA is collaborating with the city and removing anything that might be a hindrance. Street lights, road signs even power lines are considered to be an encumbrance and will be removed for the shuttle’s short excursion. At 58 feet tall, Endeavor towers above anything that has ever passed through the city streets of Los Angeles.
If everything goes accordingly, the craft should arrive at the center October 13th and be on display to the public at the end of the month, so the profound and inspiring craft can be enjoyed by all, celebrating the lengthy and momentous history of a true modern marvel. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/shuttleoperations/orbiters/endeavour-info.html
Photo by Darleine Heitman. Endeavor was accompanied by two fighter jets as it slowly rounded Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign, circling twice to the cheers of thousands of Angelenos.
Video produced for the base line by Gary Byrd, Julie Cosgrove and Darleine Heitman.