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Endeavour space shuttle lands at Edwards Air Force Base, preps for SoCal tour

A crowd is seen catching a glimpse of the space shuttle Endeavour at Edwards Air Force base on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012.
September 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The space shuttle Endeavour arrived in Southern California, making a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base on Thursday after taking off from Houston's Ellington Field early in the morning.

"It's very amazing, I love it," said shuttle fan Ray Marspratno. "It's just like a dream come true to see it landed."

The shuttle, riding aboard a modified Boeing 747, left Texas at 5 a.m. PT. It landed at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso to refuel, and then headed toward the Southland. It performed a couple of flyovers, before landing at Edwards Air Force Base at about 12:50 p.m. PT.

It was announced Thursday afternoon that the shuttle's Friday morning take off would be delayed until about 8:15 a.m., one hour than previously planned, due to low clouds and fog expected in the San Francisco Bay area.

See a map of places to watch Endeavour fly over Southern California

Weather in the Los Angeles Basin, however, is expected to be great for the shuttle's tour of iconic Southern California landmarks. In particular, conditions at the Griffith Observatory were predicted to be mostly sunny, providing fantastic visibility for those who want to catch a glimpse of the shuttle there. The Griffith Observatory will open at 6 a.m. Friday for people who want to watch the flyover.

The shuttle is also expected to soar over Disneyland, the Getty Center, the California Science Center and Los Angeles City Hall. It will arrive at Los Angeles International Airport around 1 p.m.

Endeavour has a lot of special meaning to many people, in part because it replaced the Challenger and it was the last shuttle built.

"Endeavour represented a rebirth of the shuttle program. It's the newest of the orbiters," said aerospace historian Peter Merlin. "We've had a great deal of excitement from the public."

Endeavour was designed, built and tested in the Antelope Valley. To honor those who helped build the shuttle program, Endeavour will do a flyover in the area. It will fly over Palmdale, where it was assembled, as well as Lancaster and Mojave.

"I've been in the Valley all my life," said Mark Quies, a NASA employee. "I think it's exciting, it's always been exciting. It's very sad that another chapter has ended."

It's expected to be an amazing spectacle as it arrives, and authorities are concerned about distracted drivers. Officials held a news conference to urge drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not Endeavour.

LAX officials said there will be no loitering allowed on airport grounds, and California Highway Patrol officials said there would be extra patrols out.

Endeavour will stay at LAX until Oct. 13 when it will make the 12-mile road trip to the California Science Center. Crews are making sure the ground route is clear of any obstacles, such as trees or power lines. TV cable lines also have been raised in order to clear the shuttle's tail, which is more than 50 feet high.

Workers at the California Science Center are putting the finishing touches on a barn-like building that will house Endeavor for the first five years of its stay at the museum until a permanent display is built. Officials with the California Science Center have been planning for the arrival of Endeavor for over a year.

"Space shuttle Endeavour is a symbol of man's ability to go beyond the boundaries of Earth," said Shell Amega, spokeswoman with the California Science Center Foundation.

The exhibit is scheduled to open to the public Oct. 30.


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