Space shuttle Endeavour readies for final flight to LA


CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - JUNE 1: Space Shuttle Endeavour is escorted back to a storage building following it's last mission before being retired, at Kennedy Space Center, on June 01, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Endeavour will leave Florida on Tuesday to make its final trip to the California Science Center.



The space shuttle Endeavour will embark on its final journey next week as the retired shuttle is flown from Central Florida to its new home at a Los Angeles museum. 

Endeavour, which has flown 123 million miles in its 20-year career, will be piggybacked on top a specially modified 747 jumbo jet for the last trip of its lifetime.

The flight was originally scheduled for Monday but has been delayed to Tuesday morning after inclement weather reports on the flight path, reports The Orlando Sentinel. 

Endeavour will be the second of NASA's three surviving shuttles to retire away from the Kennedy Space Center and begin new roles as space ambassadors, reports Reuters. 

"Not everyone can travel to Kennedy Space Center to see some of the launches,” NASA astronaut Kay Hire, who flew aboard Endeavour in 2010, told Central Florida News 13 on Sunday. "We finally get to show her off to those folks who never had the chance to see her before," she said. 

Together, the shuttle and the jumbo jet weigh in at a whopping 400,000 pounds. The pair was gently moved onto the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility on Florida's West Coast, reports CF News 13. 

Endeavour was built by NASA after the tragic 1986 accident that destroyed the shuttle Challenger, reports Reuters. It has flown just 25 missions in 20 years, which is light for space shuttle standards. 

Reuters reports that one of Endeavour's most important roles was to help build and outfit the $100 billion International Space Station, which orbits about 250 miles above the Earth. It flew its final mission in May 2011 to deliver and install a $2 billion particle detector that is searching for signs of dark matter.

Endeavour is estimated to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport on September 20th where it will be met by a crew of hundreds of engineers, police officers and utility workers, reports the Los Angeles Times. 

The crew has the difficult job of moving the massive shuttle 12 miles through the streets of LA to its new permanent home at the California Science Center.