Next for shuttle Endeavour: A two-day parade through L.A.
The public will get another chance to welcome space shuttle Endeavour to L.A.
Following the shuttle's dramatic Friday flyover of California, Endeavour is to remain housed at a United Airlines hangar until next month.
Then, a two-day parade from LAX to the California Science Center is scheduled to begin Oct. 12. The move prompted officials to cut down hundreds of trees and remove light standards to accommodate the large spacecraft. New trees will be planted later.
The 12-mile route where the trees will be cut runs from Los Angeles International Airport to the shuttle's permanent home in Exposition Park. (Of those, 119 trees are in South Los Angeles, 124 are in Westchester, 128 are in Inglewood and the rest are near LAX).
The route will follow Manchester Boulevard to Crenshaw Drive, then onto Crenshaw Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — wide thoroughfares with few permanent obstacles.
Endeavour touched down Friday to cheers and the music of "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copeland. Soon after landing, the crew of the Boeing 747 carrying the space shuttle put up a U.S. flag that fluttered from the jet's rooftop hatch.
"Star Trek" actress Nichelle Nichols hosted the welcoming ceremony for the spacecraft at the United Airlines hangar.
"What a momentous day this has been," said the 79-year-old actress.
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"This is a great day for the city and the region," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "It is an honor and privilege to welcome home this crown jewel of the space fleet."
James T. Butts, the mayor of Inglewood -- through which the shuttle must pass as it is hauled to the science center -- said he has often been asked why the arrival of Endeavour was "such a big deal."
"I tell them, quite simply, 'Because this is history,'" Butts said, adding that the spacecraft will stay at the museum for hundreds of years, and "long after we're gone," museum visitors will admire Endeavour and "share the same feeling of pride that we do."
Astronaut Garrett Reisman, who first flew on Endeavour in 2008, said he was proud to see the shuttle call Los Angeles home. Reisman left NASA 18 months ago and now works at SpaceX and lives in Manhattan Beach.
He said having a shuttle at the science center will inspire future generations but that he's especially excited about the opportunity to take his 1 1/2-year-old son to see Endeavour.
"I can take my son to see my spaceship," he said. "That will be very cool.... He'll grow up with Endeavour in his backyard."
As the shuttle flew low over LAX, Kathy Sanders-Phillips was teary-eyed.
"Oh my God," she said. "Oh my God."
Sanders-Phillips watched the shuttle from the United hangar with her husband, Ken Phillips, the aerospace curator at the science center who first thought to bring an orbiter to the museum in 1991.
Phillips said he feels a personal connection to Endeavour -- his college friend, Ron McNair, was one of the astronauts killed when the shuttle Challenger exploded. Endeavour was built to replace Challenger.
"I have to hope Ron is looking down on this," Sanders-Phillips said, her voice breaking.
Nine-year-old Julian Caldera was also at the ceremony for donors and employees of the science center, NASA and local foundations, and said he was excited he had been able to meet three astronauts on hand.
"Not many little kids get to do that," he said.
-- Kate Mather
Photo: The space shuttle Endeavour passes the Hollywood sign, as seen from the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles on Friday. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times