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Image: Endeavour over Hollywood
Mike Blake  /  Reuters
The space shuttle Endeavour and its carrier airplane are escorted by two jets as they pass in front of the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles on Friday.
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updated 9/22/2012 2:04:02 PM ET 2012-09-22T18:04:02

The space shuttle Endeavour has touched down for the last time, but its travels aren't over just yet.

Endeavour currently sits at Los Angeles International Airport, where it landed Friday atop a modified Boeing 747 jet after a three-day farewell tour that first took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle will live out the rest of its days here in the City of Angels, but it's still 12 miles from its final destination, the California Science Center.

And they will not be easy miles. To reach its museum retirement home, Endeavour will chug down surface streets through the heart of Los Angeles at 2 mph or less — a far cry from the space plane's 17,500 mph orbital speed.

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The home stretch of Endeavour's final journey begins Oct. 12, when four computer-controlled transport vehicles will roll the shuttle out of its airport hangar. The orbiter is slated to arrive at the California Science Center the next day. [ Photos: Shuttle Endeavour's California Flyover Tour ]

Museum officials have been planning out this trek since shortly after NASA awarded them Endeavour in April 2011. The science center could draw little guidance from history, for the shuttle's street parade will be unprecedented.

"There's nothing that big that's been moved through the center of a city before," Marty Fabrick, who is  managing Endeavour's move for the science center, told SPACE.com. "So there really was no playbook."

The space shuttle is too wide (78 feet, or 24 meters) and too tall (58 feet, or 18 m) to cruise unobtrusively down LA's streets like your average SUV. So the museum has been working with city and utilities personnel to remove obstacles along Endeavour's path, Fabrick said.

Some of these obstructions — such as street lights and power lines — will be put back shortly after the shuttle passes by.

"It's a very choreographed operation," Fabrick said. "Literally, there will be hundreds if not thousands of people on the route doing all this work while we're moving Endeavour."

After the shuttle arrives at the science center on Oct. 13, the museum will spend about two weeks touching up the orbiter and its exhibit. Endeavour, which flew 25 space missions between 1992 and 2011, is slated to go on display Oct. 30.

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But even that date won't mark the end of Endeavour's journey. The California Science Center is still working out details of the shuttle's permanent exhibit, which will showcase Endeavour in a vertical position as if ready to launch, flanked by the external tank and solid rocket boosters that helped get it off the ground.

The final exhibit should be all ready to go within five years or so, said California Science Center president and CEO Jeffrey Rudolph.

"It's going to be so awesome," Rudolph told SPACE.com. "I think that moment when you see the whole full stack — it's sort of jaw-dropping. People are just going to go, 'Wow!'"

Follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter@michaeldwallor SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebookand Google+.

© 2013 Space.com. All rights reserved. More from Space.com.

Video: Endeavour shuttle voyage angers residents

  1. Closed captioning of: Endeavour shuttle voyage angers residents

    >>> it's the end of an era for the space shuttle program . the last shuttle built. the endeavor is now in los angeles where it will become part of a spectacular museum exhibit. kristen dahlgren now on the endeavor 's final flights.

    >> reporter: it was the final flight, a victory lap around california, piggy backed past landmarks like the golden gate bridge and the hollywood sign .

    >> oh, right there! right over there!

    >> what a sight. never seen anything like that in my life.

    >> reporter: above communities where engineers build endeavor 21 years ago. bill roberts worked on shuttles for decades.

    >> southern california is definitely the home of endeavor . we're very glad to see her come here.

    >> and liftoff of the maiden voyage of endeavor .

    >> reporter: the orbiter that traveled 123 million miles through space touched down for the last time at los angeles international airport , but it's the final earth-bound leg of its trip, the 12 miles from l.a.x. through city streets to the california science center that has some wishing the shuttle had stayed away. gina fields grew up in this neighborhood.

    >> we just wake up the our tree being cut down, our childhood being taken away. it's really heartbreaking.

    >> reporter: 400 trees are being removed to make way for endeavor 's 78-foot wingspan. final approval was given after a heated public hearing this week.

    >> i'm tired of people coming through our community doing things behind our backs.

    >> reporter: and while the california science center has agreed to plant at least two trees for every one lost, repair sidewalks and create scholarships, resident wonder if there wasn't a better way.

    >> 94 million miles to mars and land on mars, then we can go 12 miles to the science center without cutting these trees.

    >> reporter: nasa and the museum say cutting up endeavor instead isn't an option because of its fragile and irreplaceable tile shield.

    >> there's huge value in look at something that's genuine because it's inspiring and you know that everything that you see is there specifically for a reason. every scorch mark you see, every dent that you see, everything that is there is revealing what the orbiter did and why it did it.

    >> reporter: for "today," kristen dahlgren.

Photos: Space shuttle Endeavour's final trek

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  1. Endeavour's new home

    The space shuttle Endeavour arrives at the hangar at the California Science Center for its last stop on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Los Angeles. Endeavour arrived at the museum after a 12-mile parade with thousands of onlookers, ending with a greeting party of city leaders and other dignitaries. (Lawrence K. Ho / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Unfazed by the fuss

    Traymond Harris, left, and Ryan Hudge play basketball as the shuttle Endeavour passes by on Crenshaw Ave. in Inglewood, Calif., on Oct. 13, 2012. The iconic black and white orbiter, which flew 25 times to space over the past two decades, arrived at the California Science Center on Oct. 14 to begin its new mission as a museum exhibit. Endeavour had been scheduled to pull up at the CSC on Oct. 13, but natural and utility obstacles, as well as the need for maintenance of its transporters, slowed the pace of the shuttle's parade and delayed its arrival by a day. (Wally Skalij / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Nosy passerby

    A man takes a photo as space shuttle Endeavour passes by in Inglewood, Calif., on Oct. 13, 2012. Transporting Endeavour cross-town was a costly feat with an estimated price tag of $10 million, to be paid for by the science center and private donations. (Rick Loomis / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Sharing the view

    Children watch from a window as space shuttle Endeavour travels to the California Science Center on Crenshaw Blvd. in Inglewood, Calif., on Oct. 13. (Jeff Gritchen / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. On parade

    The space shuttle Endeavour make its way down Manchester Blvd. in Los Angeles on Oct. 12, 2012. Movers had planned a slow trip, saying the shuttle that once orbited at more than 17,000 mph would move at just 2 mph in its final voyage through Inglewood and southern Los Angeles. But that estimate turned out to be generous, with Endeavour often creeping along at a barely detectable pace when it wasn't at a dead stop due to difficult-to-maneuver obstacles like tree branches and light posts (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Take a right at the light

    Space shuttle Endeavour makes a right turn onto Manchester Ave. in Los Angeles while being moved from Los Angeles International Airport to its retirement home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, on Oct. 12. (Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Doughnut break

    Space shuttle Endeavour stops in front of Randy's Donuts as it's transported from Los Angeles International Airport to its retirement home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park in Los Angeles on Oct. 12. (Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Posing with the shuttle

    Mifumi Nakajima takes a picture of her husband, Nozomo Nakajima, holding their children Leigha Nakajima, 3, and Eli Nakajima, 6 mos., in front of the space shuttle Endeavour in a mall parking lot on Oct. 12, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Endeavour is making the journey from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center to go on permanent public display. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Hitting the road

    A police officer stands near space shuttle Endeavour as it leaves Los Angeles International Airport and is transported on city streets to the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 12, 2012. Endeavour began a two-day ground journey atop a massive wheeled transporter to its final resting place at the science center on the edge of downtown Los Angeles. (Jason Redmond / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Dawn of a new era for Endeavour

    Cranes lower the space shuttle Endeavour onto a wheeled platform that will serve as the overland transporter early Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, at Los Angeles International Airport. In a few weeks Endeavour will be towed through city streets to its new home at the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles. (Bill Ingalls / NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Arriving at LAX

    The space shuttle Endeavour, mounted on a 747 airliner, passes over the 405 freeway in Los Angeles on a low-level flyover at Los Angeles International Airport on Sept. 21, 2012. Endeavour's arrival at LAX completed a three day, cross-country farewell tour. The last leg of the trip, from Edwards Air Force Base to Los Angeles, marked the final airborne journey for any of NASA's three surviving shuttles. In October, Endeavour will travel through Los Angeles' streets to the California Science Center. (Fred Prouser / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Waiting for a view

    Spectators wait for the space shuttle Endeavour to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport on Sept. 21. Hundreds of people turned up as early as 6 a.m. to secure a good viewing spot for the arrival. (Gene Blevins / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Hollywood debut

    The space shuttle Endeavour, perched atop its modified 747 carrier jet, is escorted by two other planes as it passes in front of Los Angeles' Hollywood sign on Sept. 21. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Shuttle at the Golden Gate

    The space shuttle Endeavour and its carrier airplane make a pass over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge on Sept. 21, 2012, during Endeavour's final flight. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. San Francisco treat

    A spectator takes pictures of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge while waiting for Endeavour on Sept. 21. (John G. Mabanglo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Back in California

    The space shuttle Endeavour sits atop its carrier aircraft, a 747 jumbo jet, at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Sept. 20, 2012. Its arrival at Edwards was a homecoming of sorts for the California-made spacecraft, which was built as a replacement for Challenger. Endeavour made its way to California from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, via Texas. (Jae C. Hong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Over the mountains

    The space shuttle Endeavour is ferried by NASA's shuttle carrier aircraft over the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces, N.M., on Sept. 20. Endeavour was making its way from Houston's Ellington Field to Edwards Air Force Base in California. (Robin Zielinski / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Honoring the last commander

    Thousands of students and faculty on the Mall of the University of Arizona, left, look up as the Endeavour flies over Tucson on Sept. 20. Also on the campus, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords waves to the shuttle with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords retired from the House after suffering serious head injuries during a 2011 shooting attack. Months after the attack, Kelly served as Endeavour's last space commander. (EPA, Southwest Photo Bank) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Buzzing the Texas State Capitol

    Endeavour flies past the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin, en route to California on the morning of Sept. 20. (Marco Hanson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Houston, we have a shuttle

    The space shuttle Endeavour and its carrier jet fly over Houston on Sept. 19. Endeavour made an overnight stopover in Houston, the home of Johnson Space Center, which houses the agency's astronaut training facilities and Mission Control. (NASA via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Crowds at Ellington Field

    The Endeavour flies over Ellington Field in Houston on Sept. 19. (David J. Phillip / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Fans in Florida

    Jorgen and Ruth Sabinsky watch as the shuttle Endeavour and its carrier jet fly over Cocoa Beach, Fla., shortly after the start of its cross-country journey from Kennedy Space Center on Sept. 19. (Bill Ingalls / NASA via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Leaving Kennedy Space Center

    Bolted on top of a modified jumbo jet, Endeavour makes its departure from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 19. (John Raoux / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Perched for flight

    A bird sits on a stake near the space shuttle Endeavour and its carrier jet at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 17, during preparations for the shuttle's cross-country piggyback flight to California. (Bill Ingalls / NASA via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Shuttles face off

    Two space shuttles face each other as Endeavour backs out of the Orbiter Processing Facility and Atlantis is moved out of the Vehicle Assembly Building on Aug. 16, 2012, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Endeavour was being processed for its piggyback flight to California, while Atlantis was being prepared for display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. NASA's 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building rises in the background. (Roberto Gonzalez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    Above: Slideshow (25) Endeavour's final trek
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    Slideshow (29) Shuttle Endeavour, this is your life

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