Marking the end of an era, Space Shuttle Endeavor—the fifth and final NASA space shuttle constructed—arrived at Los Angeles Airport (LAX) on September 21, 2012 to begin its journey on the streets of LA to its final resting place at the California Science Center.
NASA offered up three of its four decommissioned space shuttles as donations to museums; many museums competed for the honor of displaying a retired NASA space shuttle orbiter. In fact, NASA received more than 20 proposals and selected the California Science Center to receive Endeavour. (Enterprise is at New York’s Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum; Discovery is at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the National Air and Space Museum near Washington, D.C.; and Atlantis remains at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.).
Transporting the gigantic space orbiter from LAX to its new home was no small feat. Endeavour, piggybacked on a Boeing 747 wide-body commercial airliner, landed at LAX on September 21, 2012. There it sat for three weeks, awaiting its move scheduled to span October 11 through 14. The route chosen included LA’s La Tijera, Manchester, Crenshaw, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards before arriving at the final destination: Endeavour’s new home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
Along the way, the shuttle narrowly missed buildings and power lines on utility poles. In some sections along the route, power had to be completely shut off and the utility poles removed in order for Endeavour to maneuver safely down the boulevard. Across the Manchester Boulevard Bridge, straddling the I-405 freeway, workers hitched Endeavor to an unmodified, San Antonio-built Toyota Tundra CrewMax (the same model as geek’s truck!), which hauled the heavy shuttle forward.
Endeavour spent some time at the Great Western Forum (a.k.a The Forum, the former home of the LA Lakers), where locals were treated to a public viewing, before arriving at the California Science Center on October 14.