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Space shuttle Endeavour coming to California Science Center, permanently

April 12, 2011 | 11:35 am

Shuttle

The space shuttle Endeavour is coming home to Southern California for permanent display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

The shuttle, much of which was built in Southern California, has one more scheduled flight, on April 29. The flight will be commanded by Capt. Mark E. Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman severely injured in the mass shooting in Tucson in January.

Two other retired shuttles will go to two other sites -- Florida's Kennedy Space Center and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum -- NASA announced Tuesday after a fierce competition for what one museum director called the rarest of space artifacts.

"We are thrilled," said Jeffrey N. Rudolph, president of the science center in a statement Tuesday thanking NASA for recognizing "the importance of returning the Endeavour to its home in California."

"The Endeavour will provide an educational platform for the public to celebrate California’s long time leadership in science, technology, mathematics and engineering," he added. "We are confident that it will serve to motivate and inspire millions of young people to dream about possibilities and will attract and engage the next generation of California’s and our nation’s workforce in these fields.”

California Science CenterThe test orbiter now on display at the Smithsonian will go to New York's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. made the announcement at a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle launch.

Officials at the California Science Center in Exposition Park got a shuttle-like blast from beating out more than a dozen other cities for the right to house the orbiter, which will enhance the museum's prestige and could provide an economic boost for the city.

Now, the museum must pay $28.8 million to bring the Endeavour to Los Angeles and overcome the logistical challenges of transporting the craft, with its 78-foot wingspan, to a city famous for its traffic problems.

Southern California's ties to the shuttle program date back to the early 1970s. The program pumped billions of dollars into the economy and employed thousands in communities including Downey, Canoga Park and Palmdale. An occasional reminder of the effects of the program came in the form of a sonic boom, which jarred the region during shuttle landings at Edwards Air Force Base.

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Aerospace legend Bruce Rutan retires

-- Richard Simon in Washington

Photos, from top: Space shuttle Endeavour, shown last month during its slow move to its launch pad, will be displayed at L.A.'s California Science Center after its final flight, scheduled for April 29. Credit: John Raoux / Associated Press. California Science Center in Exposition Park. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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