LOS ANGELES–Space Shuttle Endeavour completed its mission, it now stands upright as if it were blasting off to space at this moment, inspiring future generations of young explorers. The space shuttle Endeavour made its final flight Monday evening, as California Science Center crews hoisted the retired orbiter into the air over Exposition Park so it can be lowered into place in a one-of-a-kind launch-ready vertical display.
The shuttle, previously part of a horizontal display at the Science Center in Exposition Park, was hoisted into the air and gently nestled into launch-ready position alongside two booster rockets and an external fuel tank, adding the final piece to a one-of-a-kind exhibit at the California Science Center.
Before the heavy lift, Endeavour was fitted with a sling-type device attached to the crane. Two tuning-fork shaped devices acted as a lifting sling, one at the front and one at the back of the shuttle. Two cranes then hoisted the lifting sling and shuttle into the air.
Endeavour, which made its last space flight 13 years ago and has been on display horizontally at the Science Center for more than a decade, was slowly moved Friday from its previous pavilion to a new position next to the under-construction Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
“Very slowly, we will lower the back part of the shuttle, remove the back crane, and then we’ll have the entire shuttle on one cable point,” said curator Dr. Kenneth Phillips. “We’ll lift it over and attach it to the waiting external tank.”
The highly technical move continued for several hours.
Endeavour’s final flight comes 13 years after its retirement. The Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center will nearly double the Science Center’s educational exhibition space and include three multi-level galleries, themed for air, space and shuttle.
Endeavour had been on display horizontally at the Science Center for more than a decade after its spectacular arrival in Los Angeles on the back of an airliner. When the project is complete, Endeavour will be the only launch-ready display of a former NASA space shuttle in the world.
The “Go for Stack” assembly began in July with installation of the bottom segments of the side boosters, known as aft skirts, for the first time outside of a NASA facility. In use, the boosters would be attached to the external tank to help the shuttle’s main engines lift off.
Opening date for the $400 million center has not yet been determined.
Endeavour flew 25 missions between 1992 and 2011, when NASA’s shuttle program ended.
What a phenomenal legacy right here in our own backyard.