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Video: Endeavour to take one last ride

By CollectSpace editor
updated 10/10/2012 1:25:51 PM ET 2012-10-10T17:25:51

As it turns out, transporting a space shuttle through city streets is a "Big Endeavour."

Space shuttle Endeavour, the youngest of NASA's retired orbiters, will depart later this week on a road trip from Los Angeles International Airport to its new exhibition at the California Science Center. The two-day, 12-mile journey follows Endeavour's delivery to L.A. atop a jumbo jet last month.

The move will begin hours before dawn on Friday, Oct. 12, and end after nightfall the next day. It's been dubbed "Mission 26: The Big Endeavour." Endeavour flew 25 missions to space between 1992 and 2011.

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Mission 26 will take Endeavour through Inglewood and Los Angeles. The caravan will be passing over the freeway, and pausing for celebrations outside the former indoor arena of the Los Angeles Lakers and at a street intersection where "Fame" actress Debbie Allen has choreographed a tribute.

Endeavour will make the journey atop a modified NASA overland transporter, driven most of the time by four self-powered, computer-controlled vehicles. For a brief stretch, though, the shuttle will be towed by a stock Toyota Tundra pickup truck.

Despite being initially promoted by Los Angeles' mayor as the "mother of all parades," the logistics of transporting a spacecraft with a 78-foot wingspan and a 58-foot-tall tail required the police to shut down streets and sidewalks, limiting public viewing to only a few designated areas along the route. Still, tens of thousands of residents and visitors are expected turn out to witness Endeavour's slow trek to its new home.

Turn left at Exposition Park
Endeavour is scheduled to depart LAX airport property at around 2 a.m. PT (5 a.m. ET) Friday. The first day of the move will be punctuated by short drives and long stops as crews work to raise power lines between the airport and the overpass that the shuttle will cross over the freeway. [Map: Mission 26: The Big Endeavour]

Endeavour will take Westchester Boulevard to Sepulveda, where it will make its first extended stop for about nine hours in a parking lot as the first set of transformer lines are de-energized and raised. That afternoon, Endeavour will continue down Manchester Boulevard, crossing into Inglewood and stopping for another six hours as its path is cleared.

Out of safety concerns involving the power line work, Los Angeles and Inglewood police departments have said that public viewing will be limited on Friday until Endeavour's overnight crossing of the 405 is completed.

Originally, the plan was for Toyota to lend one of its stock Tundra trucks to tow the shuttle on its last quarter-mile to the science center. Instead, the pickup will be used to move Endeavour over the freeway due to its computer-driven transporters not being cleared for use on the overpass.

By Saturday morning at around 8 a.m. PT (11 a.m. ET), Endeavour should be passing by Inglewood City Hall, where it was initially expected to stop. The city hall grounds should still offer plenty of opportunities for the public to see the shuttle on the move, but it will continue on its way to The Forum for a ceremony to "launch" Endeavour's final journey.

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The Inglewood Police Department said it is expecting between 10,000 and 14,000 people to attend the event at the arena.

Leaving The Forum celebration, Endeavour will head back into Los Angeles and pause again at Crenshaw Boulevard and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard for the Debbie Allen production at around 2 p.m. (5 p.m. ET). The intersection will be able to accommodate only about 1,500 spectators, according to the LAPD.

Endeavour will then roll along King to Bill Robertson Lane and then turn left into Exposition Park on the final stretch to the California Science Center's Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Display Pavilion.

The arrival at the California Science Center, which is expected around 9 p.m. PT (midnight ET), may provide the best opportunity for the public to see the Endeavour during its road trip. The center is planning Endeavour's public debut on Oct. 30.

Trees, transporters and traffic
According to city officials, Endeavour will be one of the largest objects ever to be transported over city streets in Los Angeles history. Moving the 155,000-pound orbiter presented the science center and local police departments with significant logistical challenges. [ Photos: Shuttle Endeavour's California Sightseeing Tour ]

"Building [the space shuttle] Endeavour was a marvel of ingenuity and engineering," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement. "Moving Endeavour will also be a marvel of ingenuity and engineering. Every step of the way, we have worked to mitigate the concerns of the community. Thanks to this hard work, we expect that the transportation of Endeavour will be celebrated as a truly unique event in our city's history."

"We urge all those who are interested in viewing this once in a lifetime event to visit the space shuttle at one of the designated viewing locations or at its new home at the California Science Center," Villaraigosa said.

To make way for the space shuttle, the CSC worked with the cities of L.A. and Inglewood to facilitate the temporary removal and re-installation of power lines, traffic signals and street lights as Endeavour traverses through these communities. In evaluating the best route, it also became necessary to remove several hundred trees.

For every tree that was removed, up to four trees of higher quality will be planted in its place with other improvements to beautify these areas. Two years of tree maintenance will also be provided by the CSC Foundation.

According to the LAPD, extremely large crowds from all over Southern California are anticipated to show up in an attempt to see the shuttle in its final miles through the streets. Due to the road closures and limited parking, the police have cautioned that this influx will likely result in significant traffic congestion and long delays in and out of the area.

See shuttles.collectspace.com for continuing coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.

Follow CollectSpace on Facebook and Twitter @ CollectSpace and editor Robert Pearlman @ robertpearlman. Copyright 2012 CollectSpace.com. All rights reserved.

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

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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  1. Image:
    Lawrence K. Ho / Pool via AP
    Above: Slideshow (25) Endeavour's final trek
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    Y. Beletsky / ESO
    Slideshow (12) Month in Space: January 2014

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